One of the main issues that are cropping up with shipping container architecture is things are often pushed onto recycling being the green solution, then you get greens telling us how toxic the paints are and how transportation is a waste of energy.
The important thing is though if its available and usable its green. If it isn’t and in many cases they aren’t then we are looking at modular construction for buildings which is a more viable method for many uses. I originally worked on this type of system in the late 90s for use in classrooms and clinic construction in the UK as a temporary solution.
Temporary often means a decade as they are generally put into place as an immediate solution while discussions, planning and funding are found for building the main buildings that will replace them. During this time though many of these units would return after years of being in the field and be revamped before sending back out. Which does show the fact they were extremely reliable and resilient to weather. Add to that having slot walling meant that upon return walls would be rejigged to suit the new layout for the building they were becoming. Very little wastage as all windows and doors ended up back in other buildings if not used.
The fact is the shipping container idea developed this new concept which is now fairly old in use but still has a growing market which does appear China is gearing towards the housing industry with.
I can see this being the future of shipping container homes as the dimensions are still in place although the walling systems have been completely redesigned.
Often people looking at shipping container homes are on a tight budget. On top of that they don’t want to go and do a training course as well as buy something like Autocad which may be all the bells and whistles but with shipping containers you already have fixed dimensions. This pretty much means that your working “inside a box” which sort of limits the amount of mistakes you can make construction wise as it will still need to fit into a 20ft or 40ft container generally.
But what I did come across today was this Google sketch up video someone has put together showing how it can be done and with Google sketch up being free and quick to learn how to use would be a good start for people thinking about container buildings. I am still trying to find the time to get on there myself to start putting models together for different designs that I can give away on the containerliving.net but right now over worked and a busy family life leaves very little time to get started on drawing up homes.
City Mall in Christchurch, New Zealand has come up with a quick construction project after New Zealand’s earthquakes earlier this year. This pretty much put the central area of the city off limits except for demolition work. The shipping containers have been converted into two clusters of 25 shops with 2 cafe’s hoping to get the city centre back to life and the centre of the community. Maybe a thing we are going to see more and more with the reduced costs of construction of shipping container buildings as well as the earthquake resistant designs.
The Periscope project is a funky modern container art centre which resides on a small lot in San Diego. Constructed with 5 shipping containers (recycled). The art space also offers living and working spaces as well as the shop front and exhibition area. The original concept started in 2007 by the late Petar Perisi. An interesting use of a shipping container that enhances its environment as well as gives a place that offers regular meetings and discussion workshops.
It offers up a mix of industrial feel with clean fresh art display in an interesting blend of building use. The narrow slit windows I also like as on other container designs this style of window would be very useful for allowing hot air to escape. Its kept much of the container buildings in basic form while utilizing spaces between and above the containers for garden spaces and an outdoor area.
Currently we haven’t constructed one here although I have worked in the modular industry as well as container buildings in the UK previously. Reason for being slow off the mark is simply been busy with daily life and also looking for the right location to construct. My wife sent me these photos a few years back of someone’s house construction and as you can see (probably the way I am) it would make one fantastic container home.
The whole design is lots of open spaces blended with modular units giving space for a growing family as people can be on their own floor and at meal times etc. be able to all be in the same place. The other factor I like about this home is the amount of land it takes up on its lower level as it will fit on many lot areas here in the Philippines easily and this one is already here in Talisay, Cebu (near us). The other important thing here though is generally city planning isn’t a problem below 4 levels which also fits in with this home and our requirements.
An interesting home that doesn’t look over complicated and if placed right will have the benefit of shade on an embankment or hill during the day giving it a cool airy feel to the home. The other thing I like about it is gaps between floors as it all helps with ventilation. You can either live in an insulated box here for air conditioning or work with the elements to cool the house. If I can find the house will try and visit the owner to discuss the construction and any problems they had but I can see our container home being built with a similar design in mind using concrete pillars for framing.
These units were provided for Cuffley school in the UK. to add a classroom and music studios to the existing building. The covered walkway is an added feature and one of the reasons I decided to add this to our growing collection of container buildings as here its good for rain but with me out in the Philippines a similar canopy could be used mainly for reducing sunlight on the side of the unit. The vibrant colours also instead of hiding the shipping container building it promotes and uses the walls as a feature giving a happy a bright feel to the buildings obviously inline with their use. Another key factor in this design is the installation time took 1 day no doubt needing a little bit of other work but the main structure was located in a day which in a school building is important in reducing disruption to classes.
Ex-Container project is a joint effort to deal with the widespread displaced populations after the recent earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. Rapid constructive, quick to site and cheap are all positive reasons that made containers the ideal home to be implimented for the housing crisis. Although this isn’t reusing shipping containers but in fact fabricating new ones to fit in with Japanese regulations it also help speed up the completion times of homes as well as reduce unneeded materials. E.g. if you look at the photo below you can see 3/4 of the floor space is missing as the container below it has the floor/ceiling. This reduces transportation costs and gets the units to where they are needed quicker. The information on where the units came from is a bit sketchy but a previous project quotes a factory in Thailand which would make sense with the current issues within Japan affecting its manufacturing industries.
Reading up on the buildings they are only allowed to be sited for a maximum of 2 years due to Japanese construction codes. Although hopefully by this time the displaced people would have started to rebuild their lives and their buildings. At the same time I do wonder where all the units will go afterwards, I know in the UK we move them around site to site for construction work and I could see this being the case of utilizing these buildings in some other way than just stacking them up incase of another disaster.
I find a lot of the information on shipping container homes rather generic and do wonder how many of them actually have or do create container homes themselves. Lets face it there is millions of people out there looking to make themselves the next big thing on the internet but is it possible? Recycling other peoples data only goes so far. I collated the information on here across the web simply as a source of ideas for shipping container homes its not the be all and end all and its not all the solutions in one place (give me enough time it might be though!). But the one thing I can say is that shipping container homes are probably the most adaptable home on the planet to its environment. I have seen shipping container homes in deserts, ice cold arctic conditions, tropical climates (that’s me) and pretty much everything else in between.
Cost affective, easy to source, easy to work with are all good reasons for shipping container home construction. But also add to this the fact it can be made thousands of miles away prefabricated at low cost and then shipped in its own box its also financially viable even for custom built homes. But it doesn’t stop there as cargotecture and green construction are a couple of the main reasons people went with shipping containers as buildings in the first place as its something available and often disused or excess to requirements. Recycling has been a key driving force to the shipping container home moment. For me its a bit more complex as my main reasoning is anti-corruption, I live in one of the most corrupt countries on the planet and pre-fabrication at a factory with fixed pricing will help stop some of the corruption (not all as I have no magic wand) but disappearing funds as much as 70% vanishing from projects is a bit more difficult when the box is sign,sealed delivered on a fixed price. I have no doubt local politicians won’t go for it but doesn’t mean that many of the NGO’s and charities operating here won’t as it balances the books easier especially if involved with the social low cost housing market, as well as disaster relief with water purification plants and generators to get communities functioning again as quick as possible. The shipping container is not only good for all countries but possibly the only real functional building that can do what its asked again and again, this is why the shipping container movement grows year on year.
The one thing people are guaranteed to say about shipping container homes is they look like shipping containers even when finished. Thing is a lot of that is because people choose to show the industrial pre-use of the buildings stock as a reminder to others its recycled but in many other cases its purely down to the building functions and that’s enough. But to encourage other people’s interest in doing the same with the excess containers out there ideally we need to be finishing the projects and beautifying to show not only hey I have a shipping container home but also a beautiful home and the garden areas are one of the areas that can do that without too much investment (unless you want to of course).
So I have provided a few photos below that show good use of small garden areas and hopefully they can help people get creative with their garden spaces.