As dazzling, daring of vision as it is, BOOM, a 100-acre, $2.5 million “Cocoon goes crazy” retirement community breaking ground outside of Palm Springs in 2012, probably isn’t every senior citizen’s cup of decaf tea. Unless most of the senior citizens that you know are design/architecture savvy, athletic and enjoy dancing until 2 a.m. — and are game for a "Golden Girls" style living arrangement.
A decidedly more subdued mode of sustainable senior living that recently caught my eye over at Ecofriend is this affordable, storm-resistant recycled shipping container abode better known as Entry 7445 in the U.S. Green Building Council’s "small, green, and affordable"-centric 2010 Natural Design Competition sponsored in part with the Salvation Army of New Orleans' most excellent enviRenew program.
Here’s an overview of the official competition requirements presented to the team — Katie Larivey, Karla Frost and Tyler Smedstad — behind Entry 7445:
Entries are requested for the design of an affordable single-family home that meets the requirements of USGBC’s LEED for Homes Platinum-level certification and contains between 720 and 880 square feet of living space. The client for each home will be an elderly individual or couple in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans. The home must be designed with this client in mind, as well guests and future homebuyers. Four home designs will be chosen: two student designs and two emerging professional designs.
Although not a finalist in the competition, Entry 7445 manages to pack a whole of eco- and elderly-friendliness into a limited space contained within four recycled shopping containers (one 8 foot by 40 foot container and three 8 foot by 20 foot containers). But perhaps most importantly, the home is storm-resistant with hurricane-proof windows and metal rolling doors that cover the windows when things get dicey outside.
In addition to providing safe, permanent shelter to an elderly couple or individual in the Big Easy, the designers also think Entry 7445 would serve as an excellent emergency dwelling in areas affected by natural disaster.
The project details from the designers:
Fabricated out of four shipping containers (1) 8’ x 40’ + (3) 8’ x 20’, this unit serves as a permanent home or as an emergency structure in hurricane situations. The use of recycled and reused materials are one of the major design decisions. Along with the use of shipping containers, all of the wood used in the design is reclaimed and FSC approved. Steel is used for the columns and connections. LEED certified materials are used for flooring, casework, and finishes. A major goal for this design is to maximize indoor/outdoor living space. This is achieved through the use of horizontal rolling doors to open up the containers. The outdoor deck features a dinning area, a wrap around front porch and access to the emergency platform that doubles as another outdoor living space. The butterfly roof is used as a rainwater collection system for irrigation of landscaping, a solar water heating system, and a solar energy collection system using solar panels. The roof enclosure is raised slightly to allow for the passage of hurricane force winds to flow under the structure. The roof transitions into a trellis that extends over the outdoor living area to provide solar shading and act as a structure for a living wall that provides privacy and additional cooling for the outdoor living area. ADA design standards are used throughout the house, including the wheelchair lift, all bathroom and kitchen fixtures as well as wider hallways.
I'm a big fan — I'm partial to any project that incorporates old shipping containers — but I do wish that the designers, who obviously put a ton of thought into the home, reserved just a little of that creative thinking into giving Entry 7445 a proper name.
Check out the four finalists in the 2010 Natural Design competition here (PDF) as well as all 206 competition entrants over at the Open Architecture Network, the online community of one of my favorite housing-related organizations, Architecture For Humanity. Is there a design that you're particularly fond of?
Also on MNN: 8 eye-catching shipping container homes