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Saturday, April 21, 2012

House in a Box for Disasters ?

Survive Anything - Disasters - Economy Collapse - Mobs, Etc. PROTECT YOUR FAMILY!

Solution for a Disaster? House in a Box, Maybe

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- In one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by flooding in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, developers have built a prototype house that's aimed at providing a quick housing solution for areas blown away by hurricanes and tornadoes or knocked down by earthquakes.

In a Thursday, April 5, 2012 photo, solar panels are seen atop the Roese Sunshower SSIP house in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The dwelling in the Lakeview section of New Orleans is somewhat box-like, with a roof that slants inward and an arched structure in front that forms a covered front porch. But style isn't the purpose of the house that's meant to go up quickly after disasters and then serve as permanent housing that can withstand future calamities. It's designed to be environmentally friendly, survive outside damaged utility grids and can be shipped in pieces in a single container and assembled like an erector set.
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The house is the first of its kind, but its designers believe that there could be demand for tens of thousands of them in areas around the world that need to quickly rebuild after disasters.

The arch serves as the mount for 22 solar panels and the inward-slanting roof catches rainwater, all with the goal of making the house independent of disaster-damaged electricity and water systems. Its walls are steel structural insulated panels - two sheaths of steel with a polystyrene core - best known for their use in walk-in refrigerators. The walls are erected on a system of heavy-duty tracks and supports, and tested to withstand winds of 156 miles per hour. Without wood, of course, they are quite unappealing to termites.

"This building can be put in a disaster area without infrastructure, but it is permanent and can be expanded," said Joseph Basilice, president of OceanSafe LLC, which produced the panels for the home.

After years of disasters, they believe the market is there.

"We're trying to make this a mass-production concept," said Richard Dupont, estimating manager for Woodward Design + Build, the house's construction manager. "You could sell them in onesies and twosies, but we want to sell them by the thousands."

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Basilice said the durability of the steel panels already has been proven. "After Hurricane Andrew, the only thing left standing was the walk-in coolers," he said.

The house comprises about 1,100 square feet in a one-story living area featuring two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a great room and a kitchen. Its air conditioning system has individual room units with individual thermostats connected to a quiet outdoor compressor.

When it rains, water flows down the slanted roof into a 4-foot opening, collects in a cistern and then flows into a 6,000-galllon accumulation bladder. In New Orleans, rainwater can only be used for irrigation, although restrictions vary across the country, Basilice said.

Basilice said a filtration system could be used to make rainwater potable for almost any purpose.

"In many parts of the world, that's how people gather their water," said Judith Kinnard, an architecture professor at Tulane University, who, with fellow professor Tiffany Lin, designed the house. "Water is going to be an increasingly scarce resource worldwide."

The solar panels are designed to handle the house's routine power needs. It can also be fitted with a turbine to generate electricity in windy regions. The outside of the walls is composed of a cement fiberboard that resists moisture, Kinnard said.

About 14 weeks are required to put the house together, about the same time required for the building of a non-custom standard home, said C.J. Minor, co-owner of C&G Construction, which donated the land and served as general contractor.

Would anyone just want to have the house, disaster or not?

"It's bright and airy," said architect Kinnard. "It has pleasant lighting and good cross currents. There are a lot of people who would appreciate such a modern design."  
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