These houses are designed to help Puerto Rico survive future storms

Across the island, architects are testing the limits of resilient, off-grid housing to prepare for the next storm

In Villalba, Puerto Rico, a small town on a remote mountainside in the path of Hurricane Maria, it took months for power and water to come back to some homes after the storm slammed into the island. The infrastructure is still fragile, and access to tap water still sometimes disappears for days at a time.

Now, architects plan to build a community of resilient homes in the town that can better weather future storms. The houses can work off the grid, without any municipal services, for one to three months, depending on the number of occupants, says Jonathan Marvel, founder of Marvel Architects, a firm based in both New York and Puerto Rico that designed the new houses.

The design is “based on what we know is affordable housing in Puerto Rico for a single family,” says Hector Ralat, an architect based in the firm’s Puerto Rican office. “But the focus was to alter the DNA of that knowledge and to put in the essential components that someone would need to sustain living conditions for at least two weeks, which is the recommended time here for someone to receive aid after a disaster.” The houses will likely cost around $120,000, a number that lets homeowners access favorable interest rates on mortgages. The units can be stacked on top of each other; in Villalba, most of the community will be three stories high (the solar will serve the whole building).

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[Image: SG Residential]

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