The Future Of Shipping Container Architecture

shipping container

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.

SNAP Hydroponics

SNAP Hydroponics Ideal For Off Grid Living (No Electric Needed)

SNAP Hydroponics

A system developed in the Philippines which involves nutrient solutions seems to have answered one of the big issues here in the Philippines but also makes it an ideal grow method for container housing or other off grid homes, it doesn’t need electric! Basically the method involves a polystyrene tray that has a lid (often found for food delivery) that you cut circular holes for polystyrene cups to use as plant pots in it before lining the bottom of the tray with plastic sheet to waterproof it. In goes the cheap solution mixed with water and pretty much that’s the pots near enough setup except for a bit of medium to secure the plants but also means that once you have established your tray garden you can literally pick your food from the leaves for lettuce and other crops. I am sure the formula can be adapted for other types of plants as well.

Now bearing in mind a shipping container home has a large roof area which is not only flat but suffers with heat build up I am sure this may be a solution to help drop that temperature down while keeping your greens out of the reach of many garden pests. Adding a ladder to the side of your container means your plants are happily growing away on your roof and the fact they are self watering from the solution your not constantly worrying they dry out continuously. The other obvious benefits of SNAP Hydroponics is it can be up scaled or downscaled for winter or personal needs. I am currently researching it more here and going to put an order in for the SNAP solution so I can trial it but it does appear to be a very cheap option of growing greens, which are often overpriced in the Philippines.

SNAP Hydroponics

SNAP Hydroponics

Starbucks Seattle–Shipping container Cafe

starbucks shipping container drive through

Not the first shipping container cafe by Starbucks but its still heading in the right direction of recycling shipping containers.

The fact is unfortunately or maybe not? Shipping containers have become fashionably green. Myself its not about being green but more to the fact it makes a lot of sense recycling containers for homes,offices and other buildings. But Peter Demaria who’s part of this project from demariadesign.com said “Due to the trade imbalance with China, millions of containers are left in our ports every year,”. I would like to add this trend is changing rather rapidly with the current recessions round the world. In reality the containers we are seeing stuck at ports may not be so readily available in the future as more goods may end up having to be manufactured at home due to the fact most industries have now gone to China. You can only export so much trade until countries wake up to the fact they need to start developing their own manufacturing and not just rely on cheap imports as it damages the economy.

Recycling the containers though takes only five per cent of the energy that melting down the steel it a beam for example. Often greens will be pushing the fact the containers shouldn’t exist in the first place but in reality they are already here! Lets deal with the surplus as the lowering imports will no doubt reduce the numbers of containers.

Back on to Starbucks new cafe, Mr Demaria has worked on other shipping container building projects already including a house in Redondo Beach, gallery and a condo building in other locations within the United States.

What we are seeing with the Starbucks container building though is a prototype being put together its unique not only in the steel container design but also that it will be drive-up and walk-up only with no space to lounge inside.

And it will be portable, he said, easy to break it down and transport somewhere else. “We see a lot of opportunities here,” he said. “We can put a store like this on a lot that will be developed someday but is free for two or three years, and then we can move it.”

Also Starbucks is looking to the fact it imports tea, coffee and other products into the United States as well as other countries and would like to see the containers not going to waste.

Shipping Container Home -Red Neck Retreat

Shipping Container Red Neck Retreat - Home

Shipping container homes have existed in other forms besides the yuppies wanting to do something positive and the fanatical greens. Its a practical home for hunters and fishermen due to the price and characteristics of having a shipping container as a home. Location is always an issue but the thing with the container when being sited it can transport most of the materials with it inside for whatever purpose its required. This home is made from two 40ft shipping containers and designed for its off grid location with a composting toilet solar photovoltaic power supply, a solar water heater as well as a biomass heater. From the outside it doesn’t look too exciting but inside its gone down the route of a traditional hunting lodge. I would advise dropping by The Chive for more photos and information as they have various parts of the construction going on so you can see the project being developed over a time frame.

The construction of the shipping container home involved stud partitioning using 2×4 batons that was then insulated and panelled over with wood. Double glazed windows were also used on three sides of the home.

The home offers two nice bedrooms and a bathroom with a composting toilet. The back of the container home is also partly buried to help with insulation helping to create an ambient temperature. A wood burner stove takes care of those cold winter nights.

Via The Chive

Shipping Container Red Neck Retreat - Homewood panelled bedroomWood panelled room with wood burning stove

wood panelled kitchen - shipping container homeShipping Container Home With Solar Panelstimber cladded bathroom - shipping container home

Container House A Real Solution Or Just A Eco Dream?

As you can see in this blog we collate container house designs and projects all the time but is it just a modern fad? In the UK doing your bit for recycling people will talk about the fact they bought a hard wearing reusable bag and no longer use plastic ones at the supermarket. But to me its simply a token gesture and it shows more on the fact the bags are made to look trendy over usage, and where did the bags come from in the first place they weren’t made in the UK!

At the same point people argue about toxic paints and moving the containers to their final destination as someone’s container house. But these eco greens never talk about the cost of doing it in traditional ways or practical solutions. Why am I looking at building a container house? well its not to do with the environment its down to the fact its affordable and I can do all the work myself which in real terms for the UK labour costs 40% of the build cost. Reduce the material cost as well drastically how much are we talking to build a shipping container home in the UK?

In reality people take pride in ownership of a home and isn’t more “eco friendly” to actually be building homes that are sustainable and affordable than arguing about how much toxic paint was used in the original painting? Damage was already done and its unlikely most of the paints people are talking about actually do any harm unless you start messing with them too much.

A container house is something I can see governments not being happy with as its borderline temporary accommodation which also means there must be reduced tax implications on the land that it sits. But for most people its the achievement of being able to own a home that takes priority and a container house can offer that.