Somebody’s Fixing FEMA’s Flaws – with ingenuity!

30 Oct

Leave it to an Artist to solve the infamous “Formaldehyde FEMA Trailer” problem!

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, many of us are wondering just what FEMA will do this time, to aid those families who lost their homes in the storm.

Last time (During Hurricane Katrina) we were saddled with RV’s that reeked of formaldehyde, and other toxins. It was so bad, that they actually posed a threat to those who lived in them, while they tried to travel the road of recovery.

(Now, Ronin didn’t get one, because of a “technicality,” but that’s another story.)

Just recently, I was thinking about those trailers (that are now being crushed, with all the contents and appliances, at the expense of taxpayers), and wondering if there was a way “to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

And I discovered that somebody already had!

Coined the “Emergency Response Studio,” an artist named Paul Villinski has turned one of these “infected trailers” and transformed it into a solar-powered mobile artist’s studio, re-purposed from a salvaged FEMA trailer.

Now, I’m not sure how he GOT the trailer to cannibalize. I wasn’t aware that FEMA was actually allowing citizens to take them into “custody.” But, the artist used it like a new canvas, and turned it into a real eye-catcher!

Keeping sustainability in mind, he set it up so he could live off the grid, and built a habitat that is designed to allow artists to travel to disaster areas, and contribute creatively, with all the comforts of home.  I’m told his intent was to demonstrate that even from garbage, you can find transformation and possibility, and to illustrate that those crappy trailers could actually be turned into something that people would not only find appealing, but they could function productively, as well…


On top of being an artist, Paul is an “environmental guy,” so he aimed for a really low carbon footprint. And, he wanted a box that would contribute to the well-being of the occupants, while they sought out their remedies and recovery. He achieved this by reconstructing the trailer, using “sustainable, green materials like recycled denim insulation, zero-VOC paints, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood and floor tiles made from linseed oil.” [quote-unquote]

Although Paul designed this trailer to be used as an artist’s studio, the “Emergency Response Studio” also demonstrates that you can build a self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing solution. Plus, it demonstrates that “green” materials can be used in many “alternative” applications, besides the conventional home or commercial building.


As you can see, this inspiring “artwork” completely reconstructs the now infamous FEMA trailer, and transforms it into a veritable palace! Okay, maybe not a “palace,” but you have to admit it’s pretty cool!

Paul Villinski completely gutted a 30-foot Gulfstream “Cavalier”, removing materials known to off-gas formaldehyde, and then rebuilt it with a “clean tech” solutions. The “studio” gets it’s power from the sun (no more generator noise drowning out the TV, huh?) because it is entirely powered by a 1.6 kilowatt photo-voltaic solar system featuring an array of nine large solar panels which tilt upward from the trailer’s roof to face the sun.

Just in case the solar panels don’t provide enough power, additional power is generated by a “micro-wind turbine” spinning atop a 40-foot high collapsible aluminum mast. Now, all that power has to go somewhere, so eight large batteries store this “green generated power” for future use, and they are on display to occupants and guests alike, underneath a clear Lucite “dance floor” section as you enter into the trailer.


As you can see… If that wasn’t enough, Paul decided to bring the outdoors in…

A wall section cranks down to become an entertainment deck, and extends the limited living space (after all, it’s a “travel trailer,” remember?) into the outdoors.  And to combat that claustrophobic feeling you get in a small space, a ten-foot geodesic (remember “Bucky Fuller,” hmmm?) skylight provides additional daylight and expansive headroom in the “work area.”

And there’s more!

Paul decided the trailer still wasn’t “open enough,” so he replaced an aluminum clad section of the trailer with a thirteen-foot wall section clad with a clear polycarbonate sheathing.

I know what you’re thinking… No more lounging around in your underwear, huh? Well, lemme tell you, if you saw the people around here, you probably wouldn’t want to see that, anyway… Bikini clad babes headed for the beach are a real rarity around here. Remember that Mississippi leads the country in obesity… Enough said.

(But, on a personal note, for an old fat guy, Ronin looks “Goooood” in a thong! LOL!)

PS. I’m totally lying! “Ronin in a thong” and “Instant Blindness” go hand-in-hand…

Now, I know that this isn’t an “embraceable solution” from most folks around here, but it does demonstrate that those trailers could be re-used, in a “green and recyclable manner,” instead of just hauling them off to be crushed up like beer cans!

Crushing them into “toxic scrap” is really high on my list of “stupid things I’ve seen bureaucrats do lately…” Talk about a waste of money and resources!

The act of crushing them up just creates another problem. What do you do with the toxic crap you’ve created by smashing them up? After all, it’s POISON.

Recycling the trailer into a “livable shelter” would at least reduce the amount of toxic crap, right?

So, fellow campers… what have we learned? Hmmm?

In spite of the fact that this trailer is kinda like living in a fishbowl, the Emergency Response Studio clearly demonstrates that with a little ingenuity, and some creativity (non-traditional thinking) we can confront challenges and problems, with real, solid solutions that are good for man, and Mother Nature, at the same time…

Bravo Paul! Good on ya!

May your work inspire others. After all, that is what “art” is supposed to do, right?

Stay tuned!

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