Wednesday, November 15, 2006

design that makes a difference

I found this via Dany (thanks Dany).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many people found themselves living in FEMA trailers, offered as a practical solution for temporary housing. There are currently approximately 99,000 of these trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Experience shows that these temporary shelters however tend to become permanent as people struggle to put their lives back on track. Many years after Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, there are still people living in trailers there. Besides, there's the decrease in property value and the increase in criminality in areas where these trailers stay for too long, a decline in self-worth perhaps driving urban decay. A trailer can be a practical, quick solution, but there's a sense of impermanence about it. You don't build a community back to normal life if most people are living in them. As one trailer resident says, "Have you been in a FEMA trailer? It's like living on a navy ship."
It was thinking about an alternative to the trailer that designer Marianne Cusato came up with this cute cottage idea.

She says she "wanted to create a more dignified version of the FEMA trailer". Named Katrina Cottage, it's about the same size as the trailer and it costs about the same as well, about US$ 35,000 (there are other larger, more expensive models now). But the great thing about it is that it brings a whole different feel to a devastated area. The cottage has a creole-inspired design that evokes a nice homey feeling to it. It even has a front porch, opening the possibility for residents to meet neighbors and passersby. It's also designed to allow for future expansions.
Recently, Ms. Cusato was awarded the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, People's Design Award.

Fornoff, Susan. The Little House That Roared. San Francisco Chronicle. March 4, 2006. (here)
Perry, Rex. Katrina Cottages. Cottage Living. July/August 2006. (here)
Rybczynski, Witold. The Katrina Cottage. Slate. March 31, 2006. (here)


Pedro Scaramuzza said...

Olá Nelson td bom??
That's the biggest truth about invention. They are most of time result from hard time and needs. The common world make us, relaxed, less creative. As Steave Jobs said in a graduation speech "Stay hungry, stay foolish"
Parabéns pelo blog! Abraço

Nelson said...

Thanks for your comment, Pedro. You're right, hard times can spur innovation. The greatest discoveries in medicine were made during wartimes, for example. And yes, design can make a difference, it's not only for the latest gadgets. Thanks.