Secure housing from shipping containers

They say that some of the best ideas are born during a crisis. For Puerto Rican architect Carla Gautier Castro, her business KONTi Design Built Studio is proof of how a crisis can turn into an opportunity, and in her case, how her life shifted as she found a new mission in the midst of chaos.   

In less than three years, two major natural disasters struck Puerto Rico, leaving thousands without a home. The 2020 earthquakes took a brutal toll on the south region of the island. However, Hurricane Maria remains the worst natural disaster the island has endured, a Category 4 hurricane that caused more than 3,000 deaths and destroyed close to 70,000 homes. This Puerto Rican architect has made it her mission to provide a secure home for Puerto Ricans to withstand the most adverse weather conditions.  

Her story was featured on CNN recently, almost three years after María. In the article, she describes the devastation she got to experience, after taking a job as a construction inspector for FEMA to help aid in the recovery process of the island. What she did not know was how this experience would change the course of her life as a third-generation architect.  

During the months she worked for FEMA, she learned that the reason so many homes were destroyed during María was due to many housing projects not being code compliant. As stated in the article, a 2018 Puerto Rico Home Builders Association study found that around 55% of the island’s housing units were built informally, outside of existing regulations governing construction and land use. In Puerto Rico, construction costs can be unaffordable for many families, because all materials are imported. This leads to poor construction, and therefore disaster-prone houses.  

Taking all of these elements into consideration, and with the clear vision of providing durable structures to the people in need, an idea was born: shipping containers. As she explains to CNN, containers are built to withstand the most adverse weather conditions. 

"I realized that if we could make an entire home – a basic home that could cover all your needs with this structure – it meant that we can do it a lot quicker and a lot cheaper because we're substituting the columns, beams, walls with just one piece," she says. 

She then took her idea to a structural engineer to validate the concept. Today, KONTi Design Built Studio, is dedicated to transforming shipping containers into hurricane and earthquake-proof housing. Also, the units are built on the island using local materials. 

Read the complete article here and witness how this concept is already taking over the home construction industry. 

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