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Housing, Recycled

 

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Last week—in the middle of my previously mentioned cross-building move—BoingBoing cast light to a piece on the so-called Shantytown, USA. It's a uniquely American way to embrace our slow transformation from rulers-of-the-world into just another country. Far away in the border town of San Ysidro is a plan for low income housing inspired by the "Shantytowns" seen in many poor communities in Latin America. Tijuana, specifically.

 

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The design, thought up by architect Teddy Cruz, is pretty simple and surprisingly plausible for how utopian it sounds: develop a small, sustainable community where people share resources and gain credit towards rent based on the work they do in contributing back to the community. It's not the first idea out there like this: another architect named Brian McCarthy and PNFC Global Communities have created houses out of shipping containers that can house up to 6 people in a single container. The houses are designed for low-income families in the Mexican border city of Juarez, Mexico. Their website says they have even more planned. If you're into a more upscale shipping container house, try Manhattan Beach architectural firm DeMaria Design, who have made shipping container homes that rival the famous case study homes in cleverness of design.

Now I know I used the cliche "uniquely American" phrase before to talk about the San Ysidro development. I want to clarify that I didn't mean it in the stereotypical pejorative sense: Cruz's community should be a source of pride. It's American in the sense that it takes advantage of our nation's wide array of culture to make something totally new. That is, after all, what we're about—or at least what we should we about, lest we don't recover from these trying times.

[Shipping container photo by Rolu Design and used under a Creative Commons License]

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