Monday, April 12, 2021

Yesterday's Quonset Huts Are Today's Affordable Quonset Homes

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania in the 1960s, I saw a lot of steel buildings that looked like tin cans cut in half lengthwise. Adapted from military use, they were used as storage sheds and animal shelters on just about every farm in the county.

Today that Quonset hut design is seeing new life as another way to build affordable housing.

To the untrained eye, Robert Iantorno’s home looks like a grain shed. The utilitarian structure, in the small village of Singhamton, Ont., is a domed steel shell with no windows on its long, ridged sides. 

“I like the simple, pure form,” he says. “And it’s beautiful inside.” That it is. Twenty-foot ceilings soar over an open-concept living, dining and kitchen area. Through a single, tall expanse of glass on the south end, sunshine floods the house, bouncing between the smooth concrete floor and the shimmering metal walls. In the greyest parts of winter, light still glows against the honey-hued kitchen cabinetry and mid-century vintage furniture.

A campus of affordable Quonset houses called True North was built in 2018 in Detroit.

This type of dwelling is known as a Quonset house, named for a military base in Rhode Island where they were developed to house soldiers and equipment. Over time, they were modified for agricultural purposes, then houses. Now, thanks to growing interest in prefabricated homes that work generous space and natural light into a more affordable structure, architects are adapting the Quonset for contemporary living.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Globe and Mail article

Gary Fleisher is the Managing Director and contributor to the Modcoach Network and its affiliated blogs. 

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