Architect’s progressive transport container houses might assist resolve Puerto Rico’s housing disaster


It is a painful scene she has seen repeatedly. It is usually the rationale she now dedicates her life to making sure everybody on the island has a secure dwelling.

The pillars of this concrete home collapsed, crushing three autos beneath. Furnishings and private belongings are strewn round, unreachable, unsalvageable.

“I am traumatized,” home-owner Luz María Morales Vargas tells Gautier Castro. “We have lived right here for 27 years.”

Morales Vargas and her husband had been sleeping inside their residence when a 5.eight magnitude earthquake hit on January 6, 2020. Then a second, stronger one the next day. It compelled tons of of residents like Morales Vargas to maneuver into makeshift outside camps.

“I have never misplaced nothing. That is all materials. I acquired my life,” she says.

The emotional burn Morales Vargas feels is all-too-familiar; three years in the past, she felt comparable heartache when Hurricane Maria broken her residence.

“I used to be devastated,” she remembers. The 2020 earthquakes took a brutal toll on Puerto Rico. However Hurricane Maria stays the worst pure catastrophe the island has ever seen, a Class 5 storm that prompted greater than 3,000 deaths, $40 billion in damages and destroyed 70,000 houses. Two years after the storm, some 30,000 households had been nonetheless dwelling underneath blue tarps, their houses not repaired, based on native authorities estimates.

“It does not must be this manner,” Gautier Castro says.

On the island, life after Maria

“Hurricane Maria modified every little thing for everybody right here in Puerto Rico,” Gautier Castro says.

Her personal life shifted course as she discovered a brand new mission after witnessing her homeland’s devastation.

Days after Maria, she took a job as a FEMA building inspector.

“I keep in mind this one case. This girl got here to us and we could not discover her home. We realized that we could not discover the home as a result of there was completely nothing left. The desperation in that girl’s face was simply… I am simply by no means gonna neglect it.”

One of many houses destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Naguabo, Puerto Rico on October 2, 2017.

Gautier Castro takes a deep breath, holding again tears, the recollections nonetheless uncooked.

“That was the kind of response that drove me to discover a completely different resolution, as a result of I knew that this was really a case for most individuals in Puerto Rico.”

The individuals wanted shelter, sturdy constructions. That is when the younger architect had an thought: transport containers.

Gautier Castro first noticed container residence constructions whereas visiting Europe and the mainland US as an architectural pupil.

The containers, she explains, are already constructed “to face up to essentially the most adversarial climate circumstances.”

“I noticed that if we might make a complete residence — a primary residence that would cowl all of your wants with this construction — it meant that we are able to do it rather a lot faster and rather a lot cheaper as a result of we’re substituting the columns, beams, partitions with only one piece,” she says.

She took her thought to a structural engineer who validated the idea.

KONTi's vision is to turn shipping containers into safe and affordable homes.

The end result, through the use of an anchored transport container, Gautier Castro created a house that would stand up to each earthquakes and hurricanes with winds in extra of 175 miles per hour.

Able to put the idea to work, Gautier Castro based KONTi Design Constructed Studio, a San Juan agency devoted to remodeling transport containers into hurricane and earthquake-proof housing.

“KONTi is difficult the best way we take a look at building in Puerto Rico. We would like everybody to really feel secure when catastrophe hits,” she says.

Reasonably priced building for everybody

Gautier Castro’s work as a FEMA inspector grew to become an eye-opening expertise for this third-generation architect. She realized that one cause so many houses had been destroyed throughout Maria was as a result of many individuals couldn’t afford formal, code-compliant building. A 2018 Puerto Rico Residence Builders Affiliation research discovered that round 55% of the island’s housing models had been constructed informally, outdoors of present rules governing building and land use.
Moreover, the median family revenue in Puerto Rico is about $20,000 in contrast with a median residence worth of about $113,500, based on census information.
Carla Gautier Castro is the founder of KONTi Design Build Studio in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Development prices may be prohibitive for a lot of households since supplies have to be imported onto the island.

“The mathematics simply does not add up. That is the place KONTi is available in. We’re designing a house that for $39,000, you’ll be able to have a secure, sustainable residence that features two bedrooms, one rest room, kitchen cupboards, safety home windows and doorways,” says Gautier Castro.

The models are inbuilt Puerto Rico utilizing native labor and supplies. A primary KONTi mannequin may be inbuilt lower than two months.

For a further price, a KONTi residence can operate utterly off the grid, outfitted with a photo voltaic panel system, rainwater assortment tank, and a bio backyard septic tank system.

A dream come true

For KONTi owners Mildred Díaz and Luis Amador, their container house is a dream come true. For years, they tried to construct a without end residence on a vacant lot on the island of Vieques, off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. However excessive building prices and considerations over future hurricanes halted the challenge.

“Yearly, everybody in Vieques lives with their hair standing on finish ready to see if we are going to get hit by one other hurricane,” says Díaz. “That is the best choice.”

As we speak, the couple sits of their new lounge, the place two large doorways present a vista of the ocean.

KONTi homeowners, Mildred Díaz and Luis Amador, enjoy their new home in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

“I open these doorways,” says Amador, pointing on the view, “and I am in paradise.”

“It’s inexpensive, and possible. You are feeling secure. It is a long-term funding. And if you wish to take it with you, you’ll be able to transfer it wherever,” says Amador.

Gautier Castro says constructing this home for Diaz and Amador is certainly one of her proudest moments.

KONTi’s final aim is to provide 100 models a month from a manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico, the place they are often shipped everywhere in the globe. Gautier Castro believes container houses are a worldwide resolution to housing crises brought on by pure disasters and refugee influxes.

“It is vital that we construct for this new technology,” she says. “As a result of their future begins with their primary wants and a house is simply that. They must be secure so as to fulfill their full potential.”


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