ATLANTA HUTS FOR HOUSTON’S HOMELESS At yesterday’s meeting new city council member Jack Christie distributed descriptions of prefab huts and “low riders” produced by an Atlanta organization called Mad Housers, suggesting that similar structures — privately funded — could be used in Houston as they are in Atlanta: as shelters for homeless people. “You don’t see the sleeping bags out there, the newspapers,” Christie told reporter Chris Moran afterward. “These have a lock on the door so you have a sense of security.” The huts, which the Atlanta organization stresses are not intended as permanent housing, measure 6 ft. by 8 ft. with 12-ft. ceilings, and feature a sleeping loft, a locking door, and a wood-burning stove for heat and cooking. The “low riders” are 4 ft. by 8 ft. with only 4-ft. ceilings; they’re meant to allow residents to keep their shelters on the down-low, below vegetation lines or other screening objects where they wouldn’t want them to be too conspicuous. These smaller units come with a separate 4x4x4 storage box. [Houston Politics; Mad Housers] Photo: Mad Housers
A few months after Ike, this tricked-out FEMA trailer rolls into Houston as . . . art?? Paul Villinski’s reworked 30-ft. Gulfstream “Cavalier” trailer, which took the artist 7 months to mod, will be parked outside the Rice University Art Gallery starting later this month.
Re-born as the Emergency Response Studio, the trailer’s formaldehyde-ridden original materials are replaced by entirely “green” technology and building materials, including recycled denim insulation, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood, and natural linoleum floor tiles made from linseed oil. It is powered by eight mammoth batteries that store energy generated by an array of solar panels and a “micro” wind turbine atop a 40-foot high mast. Not only practical, Emergency Response Studio is a visually engaging structure with an expansive work area featuring a wall section that lowers to become a deck. A ten-foot, elliptical geodesic skylight allows extra headroom and natural lighting in the work area. Though designed as an artist’s studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing.
Party on the back deck!
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WHERE TO PUT MAGNOLIA GLEN If the city will cough up $4 million, developers will turn a former temporary UH dorm next to Fingers furniture on the north side of the Gulf Freeway into a 220-unit housing project for Houstonians who are currently homeless. Mayor White supports the Magnolia Glen project, but district councilman James Rodriguez and some residents of nearby Eastwood don’t like the location. “Former Councilman Gordon Quan, a member of the blue-ribbon commission, said . . . money helps determine where sites can be found. ‘People say, “Why don’t you put this in River Oaks or Memorial?” We couldn’t afford the land in River Oaks. But we are cognizant that these need to be spread around,’ he said.” [Houston Chronicle]
JUST ANOTHER HOUSTON HOMEBUILDER “But there are plenty of challenges to overcome first. To camp on the moon, astronauts need to be shielded from solar radiation. In a waterless environment every drop of H2O, including sweat and urine, must be recycled and purified. NASA engineers are sorting through dozens of possible models for the lunar outpost—from horizontal, aluminum cylinders to inflatable structures that are essentially giant, Kevlar-reinforced balloons.” [Smithsonian]