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Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies

Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies

More than eight million people live in NYC. And when a natural or human-made disaster strikes, there's a good chance it'll leave some New Yorkers without homes. That's why this summer, NYC's Office of Emergency Management is testing out a fast, cheap, and comfortable solution: Meet the Prototype.

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Technically, it's called the Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype, a three unit temporary home built to replace urban housing destroyed in a natural disaster. The units can be deployed as soon as six months after a disaster, which seems like a long time to me—but it turns out that where long-term temporary housing is concerned, that's lightening-fast.

Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies
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Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies

This month, New York City's Office of Emergency Management, headquartered in a tucked-away building near the Brooklyn entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, has opened up a mock of the prototype, which it plans on using in natural disaster relief zones where homes have been completely destroyed.

Each unit consists of two one-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom apartment. The unit will remain open for a year as studies will be made on living inside the units.

Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies
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Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies

The idea is to make sure the home fully functions in a way to provide successful densely populated urban area post-natural disaster relief. That means giving people access enough space to live normal lifestyles—rather than forcing them into cramped or ill-fitted spaces. The units are furnished and built with accessibility in mind.

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Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies
Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies
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The Prototype was designed by local New Yorkers—Garrison Architects—after the Army put out a request for proposals in January of 2013. A little over a year later, the building was assembled here at the OEM, and the city, in partnership with Pratt, will study and evaluate the structure over the summer.

Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies
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Illustration for article titled Inside the Disaster Housing NYC Is Testing For City Emergencies

If you're interested in seeing the structure for yourself, you can go check it out, since it's located on the corner of Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place in Brooklyn. Hopefully, this is the only time New Yorkers will have to see these shelters up close.

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DISCUSSION

I can honestly see a few thousand of these being pre-built, so they're ready to go when a disaster hits - I mean, why wait until a hurricane or tornado hits to start putting them together?
That said, I don't know how/where you'd store them. It's not like anywhere in the US is really disaster-proof. The Midwest would be great, since you could transport a convoy pretty much anywhere relatively quickly, but you have risk of tornadoes. Either coast gives you plenty of infrastructure for the construction, but long hauls across countries, and the risk of tropical storms.
It would be a special kind of irony if housing for disaster victims were destroyed/damaged by a natural disaster while in storage. Maybe that's the reason for the 6 month wait time?