Digicel, container school – Haiti

digicel container school haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Seen its first partnership school construction project with shipping containers as a joint venture between Digicel and USAID.

École Louis de Borno in Léogâne  the town located at the epicentre when an earthquake hit will be utilizing the new school for 600 primary school students.

Part of this project involved utilizing local youth between the ages of 15 – 24 which don’t have vocational training and from a non-formal education to assist in the construction.

There is also 100 people being employed at a pre-fabrication plant to assist with the projects as the project is looking to construct 50 such schools to educate upto 30,000 children per a 2 shift schooling system.

The construction of the school unit is simple as its only 2 x 20ft containers with an additional ventilated roof structure. Simple but functional as well as a cheap hardy option.

The USAID partnership procured 100 containers for the shipping container school projects in Haiti and is part of the joint task force in Haiti’s humanitarian aid mission, in response to the earthquake.

Shipping Container Church

There is nothing that specifies what a house of worship has to be made out of and shipping containers make a lot of sense especially if a church is being renovated for safety reasons.

At the same time I find a lot of churches and chapels here in the Philippines fall into disrepair due to a lack of maintenance and budget. At the same time I am sure shipping containers could be utilized as a cheaper long term solution especially in areas prone to bad weather where a conventional church may find its roof damaged in bad weather conditions. The other benefits are that its at a single level (unless you add upper floors) which means its easier to maintain and renovate although will need less maintenance than hollow block or metal sheet roofing.

Shipping Container Church - Belfast (temporary)Shipping Container Church - Belfast (temporary)Shipping Container Church - Belfast (temporary)   Shipping Container Church - Belfast (temporary)

shipping container office (32 inter connected containers) Road Island – Box Office 460



This is a rather interestingly designed building that makes a colourful modern statement. Built from 32 recycled shipping containers it offers 12 office/studio units for business rentals. Constructed on a waste piece of land in road island previously the Harris Lumber yard. you can see how swiftly the construction came about in the video below. Another reason why shipping containers make an ideal modular framework.

Shipping container jail cells – New Zealand

shipping container jail cells - New Zealand

A debate sprung up regarding the usage of containers as jail cells as New Zealand is looking to use its inmates to build them. Primarily because part of breaking the cycle of crime is gaining skills and self worth. Teaching the prisoners how to construct will also give them a level of satisfaction. You can read more about it here.

Now I want to continue with the jail concept for another reason though as I spent some time in Brixton Prison in the UK. Nope not as an inmate! but there doing an evaluation on the structure and infrastructure of the buildings. There has been major problems there due to a high suicide rate and living conditions being very poor. The main reasons for the problems within the prison walls is firstly some of the buildings are 200 years old and on top of that the capacity of prisoners is doubled compared to its original capacity. This normally means a single toilet and cell shared between 2 – 3 prisoners which if you imagine a bunk bed with a toilet pan next to it besides that you have less than 1 1/2mtrs of space left to move around.

Shipping containers could offer a cheap solution in the UK as well as many other countries as well as being cost affective in the long run as there isn’t a lot to repair or replace in a steel building.

Shipping Container Internet Cafe


Internet cafe inside shipping container - Computer systems

Computer Aid International has installed this solar-powered Internet cafe in Zambia and Kenya. The shipping container internet cafe is housed inside a 20ft shipping container and these units will be distributed to schools right across Zambia and Kenya.

First thing I want to say is that often people question the viability of solar panels for energy at the same time people often forget when thinking about it for themselves they are on grid and in built up areas. What about remote areas that many lack any power for miles or if they do can offer be on and off due to poor reliability.

Internet cafe inside shipping container Solar Panels on Shipping container Internet cafe inside shipping container - Computer systems

Shipping Container Disaster Relief Is It Being Done Wrong?

shipping container loaded with cars

Someone brought a phrase up last week where scrutiny has been going on some of the charity organisations and a Red cross representative stated “we have decades of experience in Africa” as a defence. What are we talking about? the fact is aid doesn’t work and that often its a gravy train for people to make a living. Having 20 years in Africa and not fixing things to me is a waste of resources and billions of other peoples money. If we were this productive at work would it be acceptable?

This gets me on to shipping containers that are being utilized for shipping around the world to use as medical centres, doctors surgeries etc. etc. As you can see in the photo two cars can fit into a shipping container. But one surgery is one whole container shipped round the world to a country that has to have a port to receive the large containers in the first place which means generally they have shipping containers available already! wouldn’t it make more sense to send a shipping container full of flat pack surgeries and whatever else is needed? Lets face it no point having a medical mission with no bandages and other supplies yet no doubt you can fit 3 – 4 surgeries inside one shipping container flat pack as well as medical supplies and tools for construction saving on shipping cost and construction costs at western salary rates.

Back to the port they arrive at and no doubt you have skilled workers here capable of cutting shipping containers for adaptions for the windows,doors etc as well as pre-batten the walls before the rest of the materials arrive. All hands to the pumps when it comes to helping out Haiti I hear and yet you can thank the Obama administration,lobbyists and corporations for keeping the minimum wage down in Haiti making construction on the dockside more viable at a minimum daily wage of less than $5.00 a day. Was supposed to be raised to $5.00 (ended up at $3.00 after pressure was added to Haiti from the U.S. Government).

Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

Back on topic generally where there are disasters there are out of work people capable of doing the work even if they have to be supervised there is no doubt aid workers on site that should be capable of taking up the task of following simple construction methods. When you look at a shipping container they are standard building blocks which are also easy to work with the same reasons they were chosen in the first place. When I see so called aid companies quoting $60,000 for a shipping container clinic I have to wonder why isn’t it done for less than $20,000 as there is very little specialist equipment involved showing cash simply disappears no doubt on labour and other costs that would be a fraction of the cost if done in the country where its going.

Construction could even go a step further and be prepared in kit form with rapid installation utilizing metal stud partitions for example that pot rivet to the sides or wooden battens that are glued and bonded which for any tradesman would see a quick turn round on construction.

But these are for crisis management! I would agree in many cases at the same time your shoving them on ships for weeks to months to reach final destination construction on the dockside if the kits are prepared properly how long? They can be painted, cut and fabricated ahead of the parts arriving meaning it should only take 1-2 weeks to construct completely. At the same time if its so urgent why wasn’t the containers in the country in the first place before the disaster? considering most disasters are seasonal weather issues these days.

Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany

Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany

Another sign that shipping containers aren’t all hippy and moving more into a trend that’s becoming fashionable was the arrival of Tommy Hilfiger at the old Templehof airport in Berlin.

Put together by Artdepartment-Berlin for the Bread & Butter fashion trade show the shipping containers appear almost invisible behind all the signage and graphics which reflects the modern design and up market brand. The other side of this is it makes sense and I can see it becoming more of a trend in the exhibition and shows market as construction on site took 1 day and 3 days of outfitting which is extremely quick for something of this size.

Another step in the right direction of removing the stigma of “ugly shipping containers” to cool and modern.


Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany, large graphics, cool graphics

Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany

Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany

Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany

Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany Tommy Hilfiger Shipping Containers – Berlin Germany

Shipping Container Mobile Library

Shipping container mobile library

I remember the mobile libraries in my childhood and to be honest in locations that struggle for access to libraries it makes a lot of sense. This converted shipping container was conceived to support local Dutch schools that either couldn’t afford or didn’t have space for their own libraries. The BiebBus can pull up and raise its upper deck creating a kid safe environment that is also interesting and entertaining to the kids. Big lights, see through flooring all make it somewhere kids want to go and learn.

The library although packed with books it also has 4 computer terminals as well. Modern technology replacing an old community service thanks to Architect Jord Den Hollander who came up with the idea of raising the container outer shell as a reading room above while the main library remained below.

The reading room offers up a floor with magnifying glass that make the kids look huge from below at the same time its beanbags and round windows give the kids somewhere to sit and read.

Shipping container mobile library

Shipping container mobile library Shipping container mobile library Shipping container mobile library sketch

Shipping Container “Music Box” – 2011 Manchester International Festival, UK

shipping container music box - manchester UK

BDP Architects worked together with festival organisers to come up with the music box for the 2011 Manchester International Festival in the UK.

Arranged at the Salford Quay Docks in Manchester the Music Box also brought with it performance spaces, theatre space, and recording studios. On top of that interactive and creative spaces. The containers were finished off with recycled truck tarpaulins to provide shade and protection from any rain showers.

Manchester houses a major port for the United Kingdom and it made perfect sense to introduce the “music box” by utilising the materials available nearby that can be reused that being the shipping containers that transport things in and out of the country.

BDP Architects

shipping container music box - manchester shipping container music box - manchester shipping container music box - manchester shipping container cinema

Shipping Container Playground – By Phooey Architects Australia

Shipping containers as a Children’s playground makes a lot of sense especially taking one of the most indestructible pieces of equipment for moving stuff round the world in with some of the most destructive age groups on the planet. Kids are naturally wanting to play but creating a safe environment that also delivers a space for creative art, dance as well as meeting with friends the shipping container is perfect for the job.Melbourne-based Phooey Architects came up with this design to give kids in a South Melbourne public housing project somewhere to go. On top of the obvious it also assists the kids in learning about recycling as the projects materials down to the windows and fixings are all recycled materials. The hand rails, balconies and overhangs all come from recycled cut out pieces from the shipping container such as the door openings.

Love the look of the interior and exterior as it has “kids” written all over it with the design. I am sure the shipping container playground gets a lot of use by the local inhabitants.

shipping container playground - Australia

shipping container playground - Australia