Evelyn Lee

KATRINA COTTAGE wins People's Choice Award

by , 10/23/06

Katrina Cottage, Marianne Cusato, Cusato Cottage, People's Choice Design Award, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards

The Katrina Cottage is in the news again: it was recently announced as the winner of the People’s Choice at the annual Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards. The awards ceremony took place this past Wednesday at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s mansion in upper Manhattan.

For anyone who missed the Katrina Cottage the first time around, this cute little 300 square-foot house was designed by Marianne Cusato for displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. It’s about the same size and costs the same amount as the standard FEMA trailer (about $35,000), yet its livability, charm and ability to provide displaced people with a sense of “home” rather than just temporary shelter make it far more appealing than the soulless trailers currently provided by the government.


The vernacular Katrina Cottage design idea was inspired by New Urbanist philosophy, and while we don’t always agree with some of the nostalgic tendencies of New Urbanism, we think the Katrina Cottage is a thoughtful, practical response to the social, psychological and physical needs of the displaced people of the Gulf Coast. And clearly the public seems to agree – as evidenced by this latest win at the People’s Choice Award. Congratulations to Marianne Cusato and the Katrina Cottage!

For those of you who are interested in ordering a Katrina Cottage, they will be available at select Lowes in the Gulf Coast region starting November 2006. For more information please see the Katrina cottage website >


+ Katrina Cottage

+ Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards

+ Katrina Cottage on Inhabitat

+ Slate article: Cute beats cutting-edge

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7 Comments

  1. Inhabitat » KATRI... January 6, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    [...] The price of building materials has skyrocketed, and the services of even mediocre contractors can be hard to come by. This is why cheap housing that can be put together in a matter of days are becoming so appealing. First the Katrina Cottage took the region by storm, and now all sorts of building companies are going modular down in the Gulf state region, including Mississippi’s Safeway Homes, which has already has built 250 houses in the region, and can erect up to 3 houses a day. The New York Times has a great article on the growing modular movement down south. [...]

  2. C Richarde November 27, 2006 at 6:33 pm

    This simple little house with its invitation to outside brings back the tradition of the Southern rural small house which, unfortunately, has been replaced by pooly designed (and dangerous) trailers in too many places in the rural South. I am an artist and have been drawing these little houses for years; they evoke the feeling of home and neighborhood for me. There are so many uses for it too, besides giving dignity to hurricane victims. My grown son and I want to put two up now on our 2 acres in the low country of South Carolina. They may later be guest houses, my art studio, or his workshop, but I just think they are great. Cheers for a little house! Thanks to you, Marianne Cusato & Andreas Duany!

  3. A. R. Leonard November 6, 2006 at 3:20 am

    What is the price? I thought when I saw it in New Orleans it was the same price as a FEMA trailer.

    Is it possible to put sufficient solar panels on the roof to supply the home with electricity?

  4. Common Sense » Bl... October 29, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    [...] I had missed Slate’s story in March on the Katrina Cottage, so I was happy to come across this post about the design at Inhabitat. Marianne Cusato’s design for charming and dignified frame cottages to take the place of ugly FEMA trailers — at the same price! — shows what a good designer can do in the face of a real design challenge. [...]

  5. g510 October 27, 2006 at 11:53 am

    Finally! A decent micro-house design that doesn’t fall into the Fishbowl Fetish of floor-to-ceiling glass, or try to look like a bank in a strip-mall! I went back and looked up the original posting here and discovered a bunch of people asking “where can I buy this?” That means “I would like to live there.” Whereas the all-glass micro-monstrosities usually elicit an abstract “oh cool,” which means “it’s a nice concept to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

    There are a few things that could be tweaked & twiddled a bit. The fridge is too large for the kitchen area, and it’s unclear where someone would wash and dry their dishes much less their clothes. The living room could be a tad smaller and the bedroom a tad bigger. But the overall design scores an A, and details such as the porch with built-in seating are great. This is a place that people actually want to live in. That in and of itself is a victory.

    As for sustainable design: The regional vernaculars developed at times when air conditioning was not available much less required. Beyond indoor climate control as an energy issue, most of sustainable building resides in the choice of materials, so, for example, sustainably harvested timber. There is no reason this design and floorplan can’t be built with appropriate materials and techniques. I could also see using this as the basis of homes in a sustainable community plan (some of which could be a little larger, some a little smaller). With the right appliances, electricity consumption could be kept to a comfortable minimum. And they lend themselves to being built in clustered development styles that would quickly lead to reduced driving in compact areas.

  6. Andreas Paulsen October 24, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    I like it. It can be applied anywhere temp or lowcost housing is needed.
    Andreas
    ps I thinnk I need one, now that I’m retired.

  7. Lee October 24, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    It goes to show how historically and culturally rooted we are with architecture. Many exciting designs have come to the table in response to Katrina, yet this is what gets recognized. Not that it shouldn’t because, in times of emergency, familiarity is an important foundation to cope with stress and disaster. Unfortunately, those preferences might have to change over time to accept some new and more responsible designs brought forth as “familiar.” These Katrina Cottages, for example, are far from sustainable designs and provide little relief with consumption and a variety of other ecological issues surrounding New Orleans.

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