Reaction Housing Stacks Up Against Trailers

exo in row image

In the prefab biz there is always the tradeoff between modular, where one has to ship a lot of air at great cost but it is delivered almost complete, and flatpack, where shipping is much cheaper because one can pack more units in a smaller space, but need a lot more assembly time and energy. That is why FEMA bought trailers; they may each have to be towed into place but they are complete inside.

The Reaction Housing System adds a new idea to the mix: they developed a tapered design that stacks up like a pile of coffee cups or take-out containers, delivering a finished building envelope without shipping a lot of air. Take what would be the coffee cup lid and put it on the ground as the floor, and you have an instant housing unit. Brilliant.

exo diagram image

The basic unit, the Exo:

provides private living and sleeping quarters for a family of four within a climate-controlled environment. An Exo is durable enough to be stored on a long-term basis and flat packs for efficient storage and transportation. Electrical power is delivered via a special connector line that powers each unit's lighting and four wall outlets


The exo shells can be linked together with connector modules to make a virtually complete house.


However if I was Marianne Cusato of Katrina Cottage fame or even Michael "Heck of a job, Brownie" Brown of FEMA, I would take serious umbrage with the above comparison:

-to be comparable with either, the Exo would need three modules instead of one, making it $15,000 instead of $5,000;
-a Katrina cottage is not designed as temporary emergency housing, but as complete permanent housing, and is not comparable;
-just because the FEMA trailers were $65,000 and single use does not mean that all trailers are. Properly designed without toxic materials, and not ordered in a panic by incompetents, trailers cost a lot less and are as reusable as the EXO would be.

Such comparisons of apples and oranges do not serve them well, and taint what is a really interesting idea. More at Reaction Housing

The Hexayurt: Efficient Emergency Shelter
30 Different Ways to Put A Roof Over Your Head In These Tents Times

Related Content on