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How One Developer is Turning Farm Storage into Soaring Yet Affordable Apartments


Produced by the US Navy for use in WWII, and now consigned primarily for farm storage, the Quonset Cabin is experiencing a renaissance within Detroit’s residential neighborhoods.

Chris Miele / Prince Concepts

The factory-precast corrugated steel half-long cylinder was used by development company Prince Concepts to create a unique eight-unit high-ceilinged apartment building for 30% less than comparable affordable homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods across the city. town. .

“A Quonset cabin is not a design, it is a tool; think of it the same way you would think of a brick, it is a tool to achieve a purpose, ”their website explains. “In order to Caterpillar, Prince Concepts challenged the architect, Ishtiaq Rafiuddin, to create an 8-unit project within a massive cabin, as a 9,000-square-foot sculpture with 6 residences and 2 living / working spaces that anchor a public park where people can absorb the majesty of a new monument of the age “.

Caterpillar designer and financier Philip Kafka has been using Quonset’s cabin architecture to cut costs and offer unique homes and business opportunities in Detroit. Between the low cost of the cabin and the land in the city, his projects offer prospective tenants something totally unique in terms of price and style.

“With True north [another rental project that consists of live/work spaces, which gave rise to an art gallery and a yoga studio] We used the Quonset Cottage to create a sculptural community with public and semi-private outdoor corners that residents and neighbors alike could enjoy, marvel and marvel at, ”explains Kafka.

In an interview with Fast company, The former Texas- and New York-born advertising mogul describes his work as “Home-Depot architecture.” Caterpillar rooms are between 750 and 1,375 square feet, with chip-marked walls with symmetrical window arrangements, hardwood floors, and a 23-foot-high vaulted ceiling.

Chris Miele / Prince Concepts

“You get a sunrise view in your bedroom and a sunset view in your living room. That was intentional. It’s about light, this project, ”explained Kafka. “The real benefit is not that the Quonset cabin allows me to build a project so inexpensively, but that it allows me to provide people with a very high-quality space at a reasonable price.”

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In addition, the landscaping is tailor-made and features a wraparound terrace, gardens, and forty trees. The project was fully leased months before it was officially completed.

Chris Miele / Prince Concepts

With raw wood, steel, pipes and other building materials fully visible inside, Caterpillar and True North for that matter, were designed with artists in mind, whose creativity could be unleashed in the raw space.

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Kafka says he doesn’t want to become Quonset’s cabin guy, only that it allows him to build bold spaces and buildings on the cheap side. As he mentioned above, they are simply a tool for him to do a job, which will hopefully bring some creative artistry to the dilapidated neighborhoods of Motor City.

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