In July 2010, the SunShower SSIP house by architect Judith Kinnard, FAIA, and project architect Tiffany Lin won the Reose Sustainable Building Design Competition. It was selected because it matched the criteria for a sustainable, energy-independent house that can withstand severe environmental conditions. The duo, however, has bigger plans for the winning design.

“From the beginning, we thought about the house’s potential use,” says Kinnard, principal of Judith Kinnard Architect in New Orleans and professor at the Tulane School of Architecture. She and Lin are trying to register the house with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Reose is a sustainable kit-home manufacturer formed by steel SIPs maker OceanSafe and education consortium The Regen Group. The competition challenged eight New Orleans–based architecture firms to build a disaster-resistant house using OceanSafe’s steel SIPs. Made from galvalume and expanded polystyrene, the energy-efficient panels can construct a house strong enough to resist hurricane-force winds. This makes SunShower the ideal structure for disaster housing, its supporters believe.

“We designed the house for a generic site, but it could be shipped and used anywhere in the world,” Kinnard says. “It’s very energy-efficient, produces its own power, and we designed it with few windows to manage the thermal envelope.” The house is loaded with eco-features such as a water collection system, photovoltaic panels, solar hot water, and a wind turbine.

Despite its potential use, Kinnard and Lin used thoughtful exterior detailing, such as shaped SIPs cutouts, sliding polycarbonate panels, and casement windows. “Temporary housing can easily turn into permanent housing so we tried to make our house joyful and optimistic,” Kinnard says.

The SunShower demonstration house is slated for construction this year in New Orleans.