Katrina Condo Toolkits

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   Katrina Condo Buildings are a building type that does not yet exist. Steve Mouzon proposed this unit type in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and has been working on assembling the Katrina Condo types since late 2006. The essence of the Katrina Condo Building is that it is a multi-unit building that can be built in modular fashion and assembled onsite. Currently, a few manufactured housing proprietors sell modular multi-unit buildings, but the design quality is usually somewhere between regrettable and awful... certainly nothing that measures up to the standards of the Katrina Cottages movement, which are [1] excellent design, [2] appropriate to the region where it is built, and [3] deliverable by all major construction methods (site-built, panelized, modular, and manufactured.)

   The problem with manufactured multi-unit buildings to date has been the design procurement system. The manufacturers themselves are pushing the system of multi-unit manufactured housing, and providing their own architectural services. Unfortunately, those architects are often the same ones who have been designing mobile homes for years. Excellent design simply hasn’t been their focus.

   There must be a method of getting the appropriate design to the manufacturers, and then letting their locally licensed architects handle site-specific particulars. A similar method occurs in the retail and food service franchise fields. A prototype design is procured by the local franchisee, who takes the design to their local architect to adapt it to the site. This “site-adapt” process is common throughout the United States, and is the method we propose to use here.

   To be clear, Mouzon Design DOES NOT propose to provide architectural services to execute these design ideas in your locality. YOU MUST hire a locally licensed architect to perform all architectural services. We simply provide the prototype, which MUST be site-adapted by your architect.

   Our prototype consists of two things: manufactured living unit module designs, and an Exterior Architecture Advisory Kit showing images of the sorts of details that would make a building composed of these modules beautiful. It is up to the end-user’s architect, of course, to incorporate the ideas in the Kit into the building design.

   Once the legalities and technicalities of the architectural issues are cleared, there are several outstanding opportunities that have not been pursued to date. There are a wealth of multi-unit building types that have not been built in a hundred years or more. Why? Multi-unit residential buildings are notorious for commanding some of the weakest fees in the entire architectural profession. So long as architects get paid so little to design them one at a time, the results aren’t much better than asking a mobile home architect to design them. Neither of them is getting paid enough to spend much time thinking about the design. This design poverty is a big part of the reason why communities resist new apartment projects so vigorously: in most cases, they are downright ugly.

   By prototyping the design, on the other hand, we are incentivized to expend serious design effort because we may sell numerous prototypes. How much does it matter? Look at the mixed-use building types that follow and see if you don’t agree that our towns would be better off with multi-unit (condo or apartment) buildings like this rather that what we currently are getting in most places.

© Mouzon Design 2014