St. Bernard Project (SBP), along with its partners, commit to creating an open-source house design competition that will focus on three communities still recovering from disaster: Joplin, Missouri, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Queens, New York. The competition will judge submissions based on a holistic set of criteria, which will include: speed of implementation, cost of supplies, energy efficiency, volunteer friendliness, resiliency (built to withstand future disasters), and replicability. Prizes will be awarded to one winning design in each location. The competition will be run by commitment partners, the American Institute of Architects, and will be juried by an expert panel that is representative of the diverse issues, needs, and interests that must be considered in each community.
The competition will not simply be an intellectual exercise, but will have a real impact on the recovery process. Over the span of one year, SBP will build five model houses based on the competition designs in each community, totaling 15 new homes. Partners of this commitment further pledge to aid by providing technical expertise, community engagement, permitting assistance, and other design services to build local support and enable construction to go smoothly. Finally, partners pledge to make competition entries available for access in the public domain, so that other organizations may utilize them in future recovery efforts.
As part of this commitment, the groundbreaking on the first model house in Queens, New York will coincide with the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
June 13, 2013: Formal launch of design competition in conjunction with CGI America; coordinated press releases from each organization to coincide with the announcement
June 14, 2013: Competition website goes live for entries
June 15 - August 15, 2013: SBP begins site planning, land acquisition, community outreach
August 15, 2013: Competition closes (all entries due by midnight Aug 16 (PDT))
August 16, 2013: Jury begins scoring entries; construction teams begin reviewing design feasibility; SBP preps build site
September 9-14, 2013: The jury will be convened virtually to evaluate top designs and select winners
September 24, 2013: Winners will be announced in conjunction with CGI's Annual Meeting; winning designs will be featured on Architect Magazine's website
October 28, 2013: First anniversary of Superstorm Sandy; SBP will hold groundbreaking of the first pilot house in Queens, New York to coincide with anniversary
November 1, 2013 - June 14, 2014: Fifteen homes will be built based on winning competition designs in three locations
Disasters are occurring more frequently, with more severe impacts on a disparate area. At the CGI post-Sandy reconstruction meeting, it was commonly noted that natural disasters do not create new problems; instead they expose and magnify problems that already exist. All too frequently, a major problem that is exposed and magnified is the affordability and availability of housing.
After a disaster, the message is always repeated to build back better, but this is seldom the practice. Many of the new homes built during a recovery are not optimally designed for the communities in which they are built, do not include modern resiliency or energy efficiency measures, are not designed in a manner that is volunteer friendly, and do not account for the aesthetic and cultural history of the community. All too often, affordability is often seen as pitted in a zero-sum battle with energy efficiency and resilient design. Furthermore, after disaster, there can be a scramble for new housing designs, causing further delay to the process and keeping residents from rebuilding and recovering. This scramble is the result of many different factors.
In New Orleans, traditional housing solutions are difficult to adapt to residential lots that are longer and narrower than many other communities. In Joplin, Missouri, designs have frequently favored affordability over durability and efficiency, sowing the seeds for future disaster in a storm-prone region. And now in New York, tight markets for housing and land threaten recovery for many residents in need of low-income housing.
SBP is seeking additional financial support (for building supplies, land acquisition, prize funds), product support, volunteer labor, media support, other skill-based support.
SBP is offering best practice information to other organizations as competition entries will be made available for access in the public domain, so that designs can be utilized in future recovery efforts.