Katrina Cottages are a step up from FEMA trailers—so much so that planners are putting them to creative, permanent use
One of the more creative ideas to emerge in those hectic (and, for some, tragic) days following Hurricane Katrina was the invention of "Katrina Cottages" (photos above), a sturdier and to my eyes much more attractive alternative to the FEMA trailers typically used to house displaced residents. The cottages are prefabricated and modular, and they can be constructed on site or placed on wheels and transported like conventional mobile homes. They are also designed so that they can be anchored in place to become fixed, permanent housing. There are now many variations, but these attributes are common to all.
I am proud to say that several of my friends were involved in the cottages' design, under the auspices of a massive volunteer effort organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism called the Mississippi Renewal Forum. I was greatly impressed by the entire effort. I was also impressed by the cottages, in part because, where I come from, mobile homes are affordable housing for a lot of people. If thoughtful design can improve the genre, that is much to the good in my opinion. And, in fact, the concept is now being employed in an increasing number of applications beyond the original post-disaster concept. (You can read the history of the Katrina Cottages here.)
As I result, I was intrigued and pleased to read recently that a developer is planning to recycle 12 of the cottages that are no longer needed as temporary housing, using them as permanent housing on an infill site in the town of Buena Vista, Colorado. Dustin Urban writes on the developer's blog:
This unique infill project will feature 12 beautifully designed and built one and two-bedroom "Katrina Cottages" originally used as emergency housing after hurricane Katrina. With the majority offered for long-term lease, the cottages will offer downtown living within walking distance of schools, restaurants and shops. Located a block from East Main Street, the cottages will support a more prosperous Main Street business environment and will create a beautiful streetscape complete with sidewalks and street trees.