Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrina Cottages

Yesterday, I wondered out loud to my husband if the New Urbanists had taken over New Orleans yet. (I meant this in a good way-- I hope it comes true!) The nightly news had broadcast a story on "Musician's Row" and the rainbow-colored houses seemed very New-Urbanist to me. (New Urbanism is an architectural and city planning movement that seeks to create walkable, livable, affordable communities.) In the past, they brought you such high-end spots as Seaside, Florida, and our very own Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia. However, thankfully, the trend is now on to more affordable housing, of which I will be even more grateful if we ever get to live in such a community. Our internet-friend Trevor is about to move into a New Urbanist community in St. Louis. Lucky.

If the New Urbanists haven't taken over New Orleans yet, they've certainly made their mark on Mississippi. This evening, in the wake of the one-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, I spotted the last few minutes of a television segment on the now famous "little yellow house" whose descendants are popping up all over the storm-ravaged coast. Check out this article about the original Katrina Cottage that has now expanded to 23 designs and is being adapted for hurricane victims from Louisiana to North Carolina. I also found this Cottage Living feature to be both touching and informative. I am encouraged by efforts to not just rebuild communities, but to make them new-- to renew the sense of ownership and pride and neighborliness in the victims of such a horrible tragedy. It's nice to know architecture can make such a huge impact on people's lives. As the architect of the little yellow house, Cuasto, said, the Katrina Cottage could "lead the nation in what could be a revolution in affordable housing." I sincerly hope that's true.

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