After Hurricane María passed through the island nearly a year ago, some 70,000 properties were seriously damaged, leaving thousands of Puerto Ricans vulnerable to the possibility of a new atmospheric phenomenon.
This triggered in HiveCube, a new modular housing company, a desire to review and transform the vision of life on the island, developing an idea that takes into account safety, prices and comfort for middle-class families who, more than a house, need a home to restart their lives after the destruction caused by Hurricane María.
Each of the modular homes start at $39,000 for the basic unit. The price can go up if the owner opts for additional packages, such as a solar power system.
“Our project envisions a modular concept that is utilitarian, scalable and meets the needs of each client,” said Carla Gautier, CEO of HiveCube.
“Traditional housing on the island is expensive, limited by geography and designed with the ideas of an earlier century that do not necessarily consider the lifestyle and tastes of a younger generation,” she said. “This revolutionary concept will help revitalize the local economy and provide more than an option; a solution in the local market.”
The company’s purpose is to contribute to the economy to build a safe and sustainable community in Puerto Rico, company officials said.
“We live on an island that is currently going through an economic depression in which the average salary of the population is $20,000 per year and the average price of a house built formally according to codes could cost around $111,000,” said Maria Velasco, co-founder and marketing director of HiveCube.
“This incongruity leaves many in a state of vulnerable housing. Security should not be a matter of income,” she said.
With that in mind, the company created a basic model house consisting of two rooms, a bathroom and prepared to be sustainable if preferred. With an elegant yet durable design, it is prefabricated in Puerto Rico using shipping containers as their base structure. The unit complies with international regulations and construction codes, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations.
The model offers multiple benefits for its owners:
Durability. Made of worn steel, the shipping containers can withstand most natural events and heavy weather, because they can resist winds of 150 to 175 mph. The containers are made of steel resistant to weathering or COR-TEN steel, a group of steels developed to resist atmospheric corrosion better than other metals. Because of its ability to withstand the weather, they are often used for many outdoor structures, such as building facades and bridges. The container is one unaltered (which has not been modified) and is wind and watertight.
Ease of use. In their rectangular shape, the containers can easily be used to create homes. They can be used to build a house vertically or expanded horizontally.
Modern design. “Creating a home using shipping containers is to create art,” company officials said. The structures featuring clean lines, and bright paint and made of shipping containers will become topics of conversation.
Shipping containers are self-supporting with beams and come with marine grade plywood floors already installed, reducing construction time and facilitating the work throughout the process. Because the shipping containers are made of steel, they are non-flammable.