Designed by Marianne Cusato

Built by Jason Spellings

Originally displayed at International Builders Show, Orlando; now at Cottage Square in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

This is the little yellow cottage that was built for the International Builders’ Show in Orlando in January 2006. It was the first time the general public was able to see what the Katrina Cottage designers and promoters had been talking about. It stole the show, with thousands of visitors, and later went on to win the People’s Choice award at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards. Many accolades followed, as this cottage became the first public face of the Katrina Cottages initiative.



Designed by Andrés Duany and Steve Oubre

Built by Homefront Homes and a team of New Urbanists including Eric Moser

Built in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana and later moved to Cottage Square in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

This is the first Katrina Loft Cottage ever designed; this SIP panelized cottage was built in a Walmart parking lot beginning during the Arabi charrette in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, and finished shortly thereafter.



Designed by Eric Moser

Pass Christian, Mississippi

This is the first site-built Katrina Cottage; it was built by Mennonites for a needy family.



Designed by Marianne Cusato

Built by Bruce Tolar

Cottage Square, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

This is the first prototypical kit cottage, supplied by Lowe’s.


Designed by Andres Duany

New Orleans

This is the first urban Katrina Cottage to be built. It was SIP panelized.


Designed by Andres Duany and Matt Lambert

St. Petersburg

This SIP panelized Katrina Cottage was built in Florida based on the Florida Cracker tradition and was completed on the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Charley.



Designed by Steve Mouzon

Itinerant Katrina Cottage traveling the Gulf Coast

This is the first Katrina Cottage ever produced by a housing manufacturer; it rests permanently on a metal frame and is ready to travel easily because of being the thinnest unit built to date, at ten feet wide to face of wall, so it requires no escort. It was built to HUD code, which is the same code used to build mobile homes. While this cottage has always been on wheels, it could also be placed on a permanent foundation like the one built at Cottage Square in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.


Here’s the one at Cottage Square, built by Bruce Tolar.



Designed by Steve Mouzon

This is the USA Weekend Katrina Cottage, on temporary display in a parking lot near Washington DC to demonstrate that Katrina Cottages can address America’s affordable housing problem all over the country, not just on the Gulf Coast. This is the first modular Katrina Cottage ever to be produced by a housing manufacturer, rounding out all five of the delivery methods in which Katrina Cottages were originally designated to be produced. This cottage won a Charter Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism. It is also the first Kernel Cottage, designed to expand easily. It was also a precursor to the SmartDwellings.

Cottage Square


Designed by Bruce Tolar

Developed by Bruce Tolar

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

In the dark days of the Katrina Cottages, long after the buzz of the early news coverage died down and Lowe’s had ended their experiment in kit houses, one heroic character pushed on with the original dream. Bruce Tolar, an architect by trade, bet everything on Cottage Square, where his mission was to bring together all of the different types of Katrina Cottages in one place, where people could see what all the excitement was originally about. He brought Katrina Cottage I there, then Katrina Cottage II. Katrina Cottage IV was built there originally, then he later built Katrina Cottages VII and VIII there as well.

President Bush signed the Baker Bill to authorize FEMA to provide permanent structures after disasters, a measure for which we fought tenaciously with FEMA at the Mississippi Renewal Forum and beyond, but in spite of the Act of Congress, FEMA pulled all Mississippi Cottages out after 18 months and auctioned them off. Bruce bought several of them and installed them at Cottage Square, along with the Katrina Cottages.

Cottage Square is a mixed-use neighborhood, with over a dozen literal “cottage industries,” along with dozens of neighbors. In spite of the doubters, it survived, and then thrived, in no small part because of the highly supportive administration of Mayor Connie Moran. By 2011, Bruce had expanded Cottage Square with dozens more cottages of new designs. Bruce’s heroic work keeping the Katrina Cottages alive and giving them a home at Cottage Square were in a large part responsible for his winning the Barranco Award for Architecture from the New Urban Guild in 2015. Today, he is working with John Anderson to spread neighborhoods of cottages like Cottage Square to other parts of the country.



Designed by New Urban Guild members

US and abroad

Project:SmartDwelling is an initiative begun by the New Urban Guild in the dark days just after the Meltdown, when the Great Recession was getting into full swing. We realized that with mortgage lending largely shut down, something had to be done to change the status quo. SmartDwellings were designed to change that by designing so smart that a customer comparing a SmartDwelling and a conventional house would prefer the SmartDwelling over the ordinary house even though it was only half the size.

SmartDwellings employ many space-saving techniques we learned working on Katrina Cottages, so they can store more stuff in a much smaller footprint. We knew we could not build the cottages for half the price of the larger house, because some of these things cost money. But our intent was to provide SmartDwellings half the size at 60% of the cost of the ordinary house.

The other side is the green side. Many New Urban Guild members have been longtime advocates of sustainable construction, and we quickly realized that a SmartDwelling half the size of an ordinary house has many inherent green advantages. For beginners, it has only half the area to condition. And smaller houses are a breeze to daylight and to cross-ventilate because there aren’t so many rooms in the way of another room’s access to windows. It should be easy for SmartDwellings to cost only 40% as much to operate as the conventional house.

 If we could make homeowners happier with a house that cost 60% as much to purchase and 40% as much to operate, surely some of those bankers would open their vaults and start making loans again. The SmartDwellings picked up steam in April 2009 when the Wall Street Journal published my design for SmartDwelling I. Things were looking bright for SmartDwellings.


Or so we thought. In reality, necessity focused us so much on survival for the next few years that most of us had no time for anything that didn’t produce income. And so the SmartDwellings languished. By 2012, not a single one had been built that I’m aware of… not even SmartDwelling I. So at CNU 20 in West Palm Beach, Eric Moser, Julie Sanford, and I (all Guild members and all board members of the Sky Institute) decided to create a design firm with the intent of implementing the ideals of the Sky Institute, which included SmartDwellings. Today, there are over a hundred SmartDwellings at Mahogany Bay Village in Belize, with more on the way. The Guild is holding a summit early next year to share what we’ve each done to develop SmartDwelling ideals, and to arrive at a set of criteria where we all can do buildings that are explicitly SmartDwellings.

It is ironic that SmartDwellings, direct descendants of the Katrina Cottages and originally intended to make hometown housing more affordable, have first been built in bulk at a resort village on foreign shores. But Seaside, which launched the New Urbanism, is a resort as well, so thousands have visited over the years and developed the desire for a neighborhood like that in their hometown. So maybe it’s OK that the SmartDwellings started out this way as well. Time will tell… stay tuned!

© New Urban Guild 2017