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Changemakers | Kathryn L. Reynolds

Designed to help ease the global housing crisis, a new approach to homebuilding recently launched in New Orleans. Kathryn L. Reynolds, a sustainable real estate developer, and Steven Bingler, the founder and CEO of Concordia Architects, decided to create more affordable, sustainable homes through their company Shibusa Systems. 

Reynolds and Bingler spent years researching methods of alternative construction for housing, including modular, prefabricated, manufactured and 3-D printed options. While examining other building companies, they recognized a need for sustainable, economical and adaptable housing that can be constructed quickly. Unlike conventional or modular construction, the Shibusa system uses an in-house team of designers and builders to ship all construction materials to the build site at once, reducing the time and cost of construction. The New Orleans area, a relatively expensive place to build with a need for more housing options, was chosen as the ideal testing site.

Elegance and simplicity are core values for this company. “My partner Steven Bingler has spent much of his career studying progressive design techniques from around the world, and we were both impressed by the simple, practical, elegant and durable design techniques employed by the Japanese,” says Reynolds. “Thus, we named our company Shibusa, which translates from Japanese as simple, practical and elegant.”

Despite many setbacks, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of hurricanes, the first Shibusa home was completed in just 16 weeks, a time span that the company hopes to shorten with practice. Once open at its location in the Lower Ninth Ward, this first house was toured with positive results. “Our affordable housing sets a new standard high above existing affordable housing standards across the country,” says Reynolds. The team is working with local developers and plans to have many Shibusa houses available to home buyers throughout New Orleans soon.

The Shibusa team has big plans to improve the lives of homeowners in New Orleans and beyond. “We hope that the community of New Orleans will join us in our mission to increase social equity through greater homeownership and wealth creation for lower income and disadvantaged residents,” says Reynolds. “Through the creation of resourceful, simple, elegant and resilient structures, we aim to provide an environment for residents that promotes and sustains healthy living affordably, minimizes impact on the planet’s resources and climate, and inspires meaningful community growth long-term to improve overall social equity.” 

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To learn more, visit ShibusaSystems.com.

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