Leading American architects have been commissioned to design homes for the New Orleans suburb that bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina two years ago, under an initiative launched by the actor Brad Pitt. The Times

The architects have been told to design properties that are cheap to build and maintain, robust and environmentally friendly. Thirteen firms were each asked to draw up a 1,200-square-foot house, built between five and eight feet off the ground, with a front porch and three bedrooms. The cost of building and fitting out each home was not to exceed $150,000 (£74,000).

Morphosis, a Los Angeles firm, has designed a property made of lightweight concrete that would float should the city flood again. The New Orleans-based architectural firm Concordia has proposed a home erected on stilts with steep and wide front steps.

Residents can choose which design they would like and building is scheduled to begin next month. One of the key characteristics of the project is that the properties will be built using structural panels that can be easily stored and erected quickly and cheaply.