Size doesn’t matter springs to mind in conversation but often it does in some strange way. Mainly because people don’t realise how much space they aren’t using or more importantly how much electric, cooling,heating they waste for floor space they don’t actually need. Here is the joke though this is the apartment I work from and rent out to tenants, none of which have ever complained about size if anything its bigger than a lot of apartments of the same budget :-
We decided to keep it as a studio type (no central wall) to help keep the air flowing as well as giving extra space when needed. There is actually now a wardrobe I built covering the electrical box in the corner to the bed, giving a lot of extra storage space. But as you can see there is even space for an extra sofa bed.
Now this is where its funny as you can see the sitting room area isn’t actually being utilised as generally people sit on the sofa bed and watch TV in what would be the bedroom. an 8ft by 10ft floor area not being used.
A galley styled kitchen keeps things simple but has everything that people generally need. This is the Philippines so microwave food doesn’t exist so neither does the need for a microwave. Bearing in mind I will add more shelving at the end of the kitchen above the refrigerator for the dry goods.
Well what is the point to all this nice look round an apartment but its not a shipping container?
Fact is I was sat working up here the other night and realised something its smaller than 2 x 20ft containers. But I guess if I did the same with a shipping container and gave more space I bet people would say its “too small” simply because they knew it was made from shipping containers. Yet this has been rented out for over 2 years now with several tenants the last leaving a couple of weeks ago while the next arrives in 2 weeks. Not one person has ever said “its too small”.
A bit of a plus on the shipping container side as simply people have been living in spaces smaller than 2x20ft containers but didn’t even realise. In construction terms though here in the Philippines you could build the same sized home with containers for less than P300,000 can’t give an exact figure simply because container prices fluctuate. But your containers come in at around P60,000 – P100,000 each (big price variance).
WA Design set otu to create a modern energy efficient office space that would blend in with its industrial neighbourhood. The three storey building is constructed using steel frames and timber. The new offices stand our and give a refreshing modern touch to the rather dated industrial area between Emeryville and Berkeley. Although brighter than its neighbours its design slips into the location rather well. The facade clad with checkerboard pattern of green and pale blue cement boarding however makes you well aware “this is the building” If driving past. the design rather fits well with shipping container architecture even if there is a lack of shipping containers. The shape of the building and its use of steel could easily see this being a shipping container building. At the same time the industrial feel was no doubt done for that reason as well as the wood in replication of old pallets.
They have also added weathered steel to the northern wall section in keeping with the rusted artifacts located at the Berkeley waterfront. They really have done their homework in keeping with the area while still introducing modern designs and features.
The interior carries on with the feel with exposed steel beams and the use of mixed materials and finishes. Resin panels filled with seawood also allow light to travel while keeping with the seaport idea. A ceiling skylight allows heat to leave the building via the roof at the same time allowing light to pass through it. There is also a motorised sunshade to help keep the building cool throughout the day. Energy wise the use of “free” artificial lighting helps reduce electrical use at the same time tere are other energy power reduction systems used throughout the building.
May seem a waste of energy at first but then again if this type of building is utilized for other buildings off it or back to the grid it may actually pay itself off over time for its generator use or payment from the grid.
Portability is also something people overlook when thinking shipping container buildings as well as “solar power is too expensive”. Well for a friend of mine who’s moving to a remote island he doesn’t have electricity there and generally the buildings are traditional bamboo or concrete. Either way building a home will take time, shipping something like this in however would give him a base of operations until things got underway. As well as a place to charge his power tools. Now this shipping container building by Adaptive Container’s SPACE buildings also has the ease of loading and unloading which many other shipping container building manufacturers are still trying to work round the problem. Add to that the solar rack can be loaded and unloaded in around 30 minutes the whole system is practical as well as thought out.
The name of the type of building is called SPACE which stands for Solar Powered Adaptive Containers for Everyone. Which in reality is a 140sqm of workspace with 20 solar panels on the roof that give out 350 kWh of power a month. Air conditioning is also installed as standard so the “its too hot in a shipping container” defeatists will find they are happy at home inside a shipping container that isn’t racking up the electric bill.
I’m pretty impressed with the layout and the Swiss army approach to design with a basic shipping container attached to one of these would make it a more viable option as the “powered” one would give its excess energy to run the other low cost shipping container unit.
Upcycle Living who are based in Phoenix are looking to bring the affordable budget shipping container housing to the mass market. They produced a 2 bedroom home at a green street fair in Phoenix and already the orders began to roll in. Although still not cheap at around $100,000 but demand and interest still seems readily available.
The basic 2 bedroom home was 1,280 square feet built by utilising four fourty foot shipping containers. The exterior wasn’t modified to allow people to see the home was in fact shipping containers. In the future the addition of solar panels and a shade screen are already on the cards. Inside recycled hardwood floors as well as sustainable bamboo kitchen cabinets keep the home in keeping with the green feel.
The other side of the concept is the saving of around at least 2/3rds on traditional building methods which for people taking on mortgages could be a huge chunk of change saved.
The other positive out of this home design is they have kept with the original stackable use of the shipping containers which also makes it faster and easier to construct with compared to fancy designs some architects go for. I quite like this design to be honest as its practical and shows what can be done to make a container a home.
I hear more people say they wouldn’t live in a Shipping Container Home than I hear do. But in reality what if you had no choice? Western society is used to being able to pick what they want since before I was born. Times are a changing however but at the same time people are still able to get a good standard of living without as much work as those in China for example.
I came across these photos of workers in China who do have a Shipping Container Home the boom times China are currently in means many people cannot afford housing but will take what is available often that is shipping containers on the edge of a construction site.
The element of choice has been removed from the equation and not only that the shipping containers are in a sorry state as well. Although it does seem China hasn’t dealt with the housing crisis yet its going to keep hyper inflation affecting the economy until it does solve the problem.
Can’t live in a shipping container home because its too small? Well imagine this setup where a 20ft shipping container is shared with at least 4 people does look rather grim.
For the couples you get a whole 4 square meters of space as you can see here with migrant workers 35-year-old Jiang Zhirong with her 35-year-old husband Gong. But this is the problem we are now facing as reality is kicking in that people in China will put up with a real struggle that makes things in the West seem almost trivial in comparison. They suffer with elitism and corruption that affects their entire trade and markets while damaging ours due to the counterfeiting and companies moving East to save money.
Thing is I do believe things can be done better and that China should be doing more for its workers homes like these below can be cheaply mass produced and its stacking system making it cost affective for workers by lowering the space needed such as below.
Problem for the rest of us is China doesn’t seem to be slowing and although the West seems to think there is some miracle in propping everything up by a capitalist empire its proving that manufacturing and farming will always be the backbones of economies regardless what people tell you with a pin stripe suit and shiny shoes. Fuel prices keep going up and “worker homes” may eventually become a norm in some areas especially for large scale projects. I worked in construction nearly all my working life and have to admit I have no issue with living in a shipping container home and with the end of peak oil and things changing it may not be “choice” but demand that will make the final decisions in future.
I’m a bit bias in this because I am used to hotel working as a contractor, being able to fit everything into a bag or a suitcase is normal and with container homes its also getting into the same realms. But then I start looking at projects around the home as my type of work changed from hands on to a laptop and meetings. In reality the woodworking and other tools I collected are pretty much just gathering dust in the garage of my parents. Over £10,000 of equipment that aren’t even seeing regular maintenance never mind usage.
For the home they will never be needed again but it gets me to the DIY issues that crop up where people head down to the hardware store at the weekends to get all the bits and pieces to do a simple job. Talking to them they will say they can’t afford a professional yet what they have been buying says otherwise. The tools will often only be used once and the job never completed to a professional manner. If it is that normally means its taken longer than it should, in reality people exchange weekends for repairs. The best example I seen was the head of a university I was at when his kettle broke. He had started to repair it when he suddenly just threw it in the bin and got one ordered for next day delivery with our usual supplier of other goods. Why? Because his hourly rate was £50 per hour and its going to take him an hour to fix the kettle by the time he stripped it down, fixed it and put it back together again. Whilst buying a brand new kettle was less than £20 and at least it should work for another year or more.
This gets back to the argument of giving up weekends as time with friends and family are precious. We work hard all week why should we be taking up our time under the sink or repairing something else? A professional can come in and get the job done in half the time and although not going to be cheap it ma work out to save a lot of time in the long run and if done properly money as well.
Doesn’t mean don’t have a woodworking shed or some other hobby it just means if you are going to go to the hassles and cost of buying machinery and tools make sure your really going to use them. Otherwise its a waste of money,time and space. All in all its how most people live these days with a lot of stuff around them they hardly use. Even if not considering a shipping container home I bet there is plenty of things you could de-clutter your house with and benefit from it.
The world changed from being social to being more in a bubble, I don’t call Facebook or Twitter being social its text across the airwaves its not sitting in a library with real people or going to a local pub with friends. Its isolation in the modern age where people banter about the little things in life generally that most people aren’t interested in. Real social engagement seems to be unfashionable for many yet for humans it is normal. Shipping container villages have probably got more going for them in a community sense than most streets these days. If we look at caravans and trailer communities the bonds between people are a lot better than most neighbourhoods. One of these aspects is that limited space makes people spend time outside with others. Sitting on the porch talking to neighbours, community group meetings, children playing together many of these things have been removed from general society. Not all to do with what people live in but how things are built and how people interact.
When I originally started looking at shipping container homes I was specifically looking at modular construction. As time has gone on more people seem to be developing much smaller homes using the same concept. I don’t think its down to just a tiny home movement but a sign of the times. In the last few months I have noticeably seen the price of gas increase for cooking, food prices increasing and petrol at the pumps. All in all things are going up in price and we can either prepare for the worst and hope for the best or look at downsizing to help accommodate the changing world.
My previous home was a Victorian terraced town house, tall ceilings, open fire places and brickwork that let the wind just breeze through. In the winter times even with heating on it was not only expensive but still struggled to warm. Insulation injected into the walls, changing sash wood windows to double glazed, installing gas fires over the old coal fires all these bits of modernisation helped solve bits of problems but created more. First one being the expense of the upgrades next as the upgrades went in things like the gas fires over the coal cost more to run. A case of developing an old house with new problems and its one of the reasons I started looking at container housing. Building something that could be developed efficiently from the start, but also using recycled materials would allow the home to be built at a reduced rate.
Now the picture has changed a bit more as I see the sizes I originally looked at may be still viable but are they needed? I rent my apartment out here which is a studio type where the sitting,dining and sleeping are are in what would be dimensions of around 20ft x 12ft. Bigger than a shipping container in width but also looking at the room you can also see a lot of wasted space in the middle of the room. The bed is there day or not as well as a dining table, 3 chairs, 2 computer desks, 2 sofas and a wardrobe. This space isn’t maximised but shows it is extremely livable.
Its why I can see the world changing as the balance of wealth between East and West alters which will see people trying to maintain a standard of living in the West and downsizing the home is one way to do it. Also adding to the fact the population explosion globally is going to see some severe affects on resources such as oil and food, we are already seeing the start of the decline of peak oil.
This practical and child friendly shipping container classroom by Tsai Design Studio was made for underprivileged children on the outskirts of Cape Town. Although limited in space to just 12 square meters the classroom gives teaching room for 25 children between the ages of 5 and 6. During the afternoon it serves as a library for the whole Vissershok primary school. The classroom project was sponsored by three south African companies Woolworths, Safmarine, and AfriSam with the school primarily being used by children who’s parents are local farm workers living in the Du Noon township.
The project idea was the brainchild of 15 year old Marshaam Brink, who responded to Woolworths’ “Making the Difference Through Design” competition with a jungle gym concept. This was then passed over to Tsai Design, who grew her idea into this bright and inspiring learning space. It was Tsai that introduced the idea of a double roof to allow air to create natural cooling while the upper roof also offered some shade to help reduce heat build up. The concrete steps also work as a gathering and meeting area for discussions with the children, a vegetable patch helps educate the children about gardening as well as a source of food.
Shipping container classrooms seem to be cropping up more often and the fact it was a 15 year old that came up with this original idea also shows that the concept has a younger audience already interested and aware of what can be achieved by recycling shipping containers.
When designing or even building shipping container homes often being practical is overlooked. This shipping container home obviously does what the owner needs but also its ideal for the terrain and country that it resides in. DaveGoesToAfrica has some interesting posts but from a shipping container point of view I could easily see these sized units being ideal for travelers on a limited budget or just looking for short stay accommodation. When designing a shipping container home its good to take the practical side of the home into account and not let what you want stray from what you need or can afford.