Attempting to rebuild the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, exactly at the point where the levies broke, is highly courageous. Since the height and quality of the levies is not sufficient to reduce the risk of flooding, living there means living in permanent danger. In the first phase of this project, 150 houses will be built by thirteen architects. MVRDV's proposal reinterpres the classic shotgun house to be resistant to water. Lifted in different ways, each house has its own quality, adding to the areas diversity while remaining safe.
The attempt to rebuild the lower ninth ward in New Orleans, just where the levees broke, is one of a highly courageous level. Since the height and quality of the levees as the connection with surrounding levees is not sufficient to reduce the risk of flooding, living there means living in danger. Of course the primary task is to repair the levees in such a level that they guarantee for this safety. But how long can the population wait for that? Wouldn’t they lose even more, namely the ground value, due to that? So: why not starting? With that message every building activity becomes political. Why not stressing that? Why not showing this contradiction explicitly?
By accepting the traditional shotgun house, with its stretched volume, its painted wood, its porches, the former neighborhood can be restored. It adds to the specialty and the recognition of New Orleans.
By adapting this house towards the potential flooding, it gives this special typology a way to survive even the hardest storms or floods. By designing that explicitly the houses will show that transition to a wider audience. It becomes a message!
Till now a series of prototypes have been developed. Together they can create a neighborhood that combines a collective language with a diversified interpretation. It enlarges the diversity as it strengthens the collectivity.
This resulted in five escape houses which are lifted in a different way; floating, positioned on top of a ramp, positioned on top of a lift, tilted and bend. In each lifting act a sheltered place is created underneath the house. This area can be used as a ‚shadow garden’ and a carport. It allows for a cooling buffer for the natural ventilation of the house.