Chicago Relocation

Mail Order Prototype

April 17, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Below are comments from Baird &Warner’s own Tom Gill.

CNN recently posted an article about a mail order home written by Les Christie. Below are some of our comments on the project.

Disasters are an unfortunate and inevitable part of the world we reside in. Despite our best efforts, they happen. Often, we cannot control them. What we can control however is how we respond to them. After all, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Disasters are no exception.

A vital part of disaster relief is temporary housing for those affected. After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people were moved to the New Orleans superdome to take shelter and to have a place to stay. CNN recently posted an online article featuring a new disaster relief home, called House Arc; a 150 square feet structure of steel tubes weighing around 3,000 pounds. It is capable of sustaining high winds, and can be boxed into a 120 cubic foot freight container.

While House Arc is a good idea in theory, I don’t believe it is the solution to housing that disaster relief is so in need for. While there are innovative qualities to it, the flaws outweigh its use. The first problem is the cost of House Arc. One of these modular homes costs between 55 and 75 thousand dollars (although it should be noted that estimated costs are predicted to decrease with mass production). The next setback is that one House Arc needs to be assembled by 3 to 4 carpenters, taking about 3 to 4 days with an estimated build cost of around 5 thousand dollars. In a disaster situation, it is difficult to come across 3 to 4 spare carpenters and days to assemble just one modular house. Finally, this doesn’t offer a solution for a family that finds itself in a disaster situation. While it might be spacious for one person, any family that is forced to live in a House Arc will simply not have enough space.

While a good idea, the House Arc is not the solution to such a colossal problem like temporary housing for disaster relief. It is simply too expensive, too complicated, and too small to provide any real sort of relief. Hopefully someday, there will be a universal solution to the problem of disaster relief housing.