A Prefab Prototype for Disaster-Relief Housing

How Superstorm Sandy helped inspire a Brooklyn prototype for more efficient temporary housing after a natural disaster.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy rocked the New York City metropolitan area and amongst its damaging effects, displaced over 3,000 people from their homes. But for years even before the storm hit, NYC's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) have discussed solutions for interim housing after a natural disaster. Now it may just have one.

Enter Garrison Architects. OEM tasked the firm with creating a disaster-relief housing prototype. Principal James Garrison sought to address how to "build housing quickly after a disaster, and build housing in the neighborhoods that the affected people are from." Garrison's prefabricated multi-family, high-density mini urban neighborhoods not only cut the build process in half, but are also sustainably built to fit any urban area, not just New York City. The 12-feet by 40-feet modular units are built with completely recyclable materials, cork floors, zero formaldehyde, a double-insulated shell, and floor-to-ceiling balcony entry doors for sun shading.

Best of all, Garrison intends the temporary housing to become more than just temporary. The prototype is planned to accommodate the handicapped with easy accessibility, open living areas, small private terraces, and even an additional window that typical NYC apartment living does not feature. "The idea is to simplify the process, make it sustainable, and ultimately make it more affordable," says Garrison. Perhaps these ready, factory-made houses can not only be a go-to solution after a natural disaster, but also help growing urban areas around the country with their housing shortage problems.

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