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Greening the Post-Disaster Response: The Sunshower House...

Greening the Post-Disaster Response: The Sunshower House in New Orleans, Louisiana

In the wake of a disaster, cities and residents are challenged with rebuilding infrastructure, homes, and lives on a pressing timetable. Homes that recoup from one destructive event may be fated to withstand disaster again. The winning design in the 2012 Oceansafe Design Competition points to a sustainable solution for post-disaster housing. Designed by Tulane University architecture

The Sunshower House in Lakeview, New Orleans

In the wake of a disaster, cities and residents are challenged with rebuilding infrastructure, homes, and lives on a pressing timetable. Homes that recoup from one destructive event may be fated to withstand disaster again. The winning design in the 2012 Oceansafe Design Competition points to a sustainable solution for post-disaster housing.

Designed by Tulane University architecture professors Judith Kinnard and Tiffany Lin, the 1,100 square foot, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom “Sunshower” house constructed in New Orleans is a prototype with great potential for mass production.

Several characteristics of the Sunshower house make it a practical solution for natural disasters:

  • Easily transported – The Sunshower house ships efficiently as a kit in a single cargo container;
  • Low-tech construction – Like a LEGO, the Oceansafe Steel Structural Insulated Panels snap together for low-tech home construction;
  • Disaster resistant – The house can withstand hurricane level winds of up to 160 mph and an earthquake of up to 8.1 magnitude.

These characteristics make the Sunshower house an efficient and permanent housing solution for areas prone to hurricanes and earthquakes.

The modern design of the Sunshower house incorporates many sustainable features:

  • Rainwater collection – An inward sloping roof channels rainwater into a 6,000 gallon collection bladder underneath the house for landscape irrigation and other uses;
  • Solar energy – A solar panel roof provides for all of the home’s energy needs while doubling as a covered porch;
  • Wind energy – The roof includes a mounting surface for a wind turbine for additional energy production.

Sunshower house modelThese sustainable elements create a level of self-sufficiency for when disaster renders city infrastructure unreliable.

The bright and airy resilient house has been pitched to emergency and housing authorities in the United States, Iraq, Brazil, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Governments could store ready-to-go housing containers, complete with necessary tools, at various staging points in case of disaster. Mass production of the Sunshower house could offer a sustainable and permanent solution for post-disaster housing.

In addition to disaster response, what other uses do you see for the Sunshower house?

Credits: Images by Jessica Yoon. Data linked to sources.

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Jessica Yoon is a native Oregonian, currently residing in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University, where she became interested in how great places can promote both equity and prosperity. She is...

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