The Periscope project – San Diego shipping container art centre

Periscope Project - San Diego, Shipping container Art centre

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.

container art centre projector garden area, shipping container art studio ShippingContainerArtStudioLandscaping container art workshop

Why Shipping Container Buildings Make Sense

 I was sent an article regarding shipping container homes and buildings saying how toxic and impractical they are with a lot of information but with no facts backing any of it up. Toxic paints in what way? Pesticides in wooden floors what hazards do they pose after they are installed already? In reality its what I call Green Propaganda. Its irrelative as nothing is factual and just opinions a lot of hot air without actually delving into such things as have you spent any time with shipping container home owners? have you talked to them about real costs in the construction? have you even bothered to find out if there was anything dangerous or toxic relating to the containers they used?

Answer to all these questions will be without a doubt no! they haven’t bothered to look and ask, also there is no scope to anything outside of their window. For example the basis may be that they are living in America and can only think of America. What about Africa, Asia or other locations that have a huge slum population that modular shipping container buildings can offer a real solution?

shipping container school Manila

Why can it offer a real solution? because its cost affective in many ways, talk of many of the countries first issue you come across is CORRUPTION. Shipping container projects can be prefabricated and dropped onto site reducing the risk of money disappearing from the projects. Secondly its cheaper especially if labour is scarce which in the Philippines getting good trades people is often difficult. So having building block structures that remove the risk of things like poor mixed concrete where its common place for the mix to be reduced so money can be stolen gives a school as is shown here that will not collapse in the way we seen schools collapse in China during earthquakes. Its not just practical its a secondary safety net.

The argument that also came up is shipping containers are too small to live in. Really??

Better rush down and tell these guys they should be rioting instead of happy for the housing the received. Here in Talisay, Philippines because they are smaller than a shipping container, but then again they don’t have plasma TV’s, need a bedroom for every child, large kitchen etc. etc. because they used to one room living. The advantages of this type of housing is its cheap and fast but also reinstates self pride and self respect. Yes I know they aren’t shipping containers and its currently something I am looking into as I want to do a price comparison on construction. The point was the physical size of houses people are prepared to live in.

Community Housing Project Talisay,Cebu,Philippines – Gawad Kalinga charityNow as a foreign national I can understand space being an issue yet the article didn’t cover cutting out wall sections and welding units together. Neither did it look at any other real solution to combining units together. One solution could be to attach an empty unit (similar to this below) which is a basic shell. Its dimensions are the same as a sealed unit and allows for containers to be attached in whatever direction you want. Depending where you are its likely to be cheaper than a contained unit as a contained unit here in the Philippines has a “scrap value of the steel”.image 

Now what if I am a westerner wanting to build a shipping container in the West??

Labour costs in the UK are around 35 – 40% of a house construction, shipping container homes can be done mainly by the owner and friends bringing that cost down by at least half if not more.

Land needed is reduced as shipping container homes are generally smaller in dimensions meaning they need less land which means they cost less to construct because you buy less land.

Running costs are lower because your using a smaller land area and if insulated correctly its likely to be more energy efficent I have had a victorian and edwardian house in the UK and they are cold in the winter even with the heating burning money away due to the high ceilings and type of brickwork.

Modular costing is the main reason it makes sense to me. Because if you buy a house in the UK you pay up front and stuck with a mortgage for 25 years. But if you buy land in one phase then your containers as you can afford to add things in a modular costing form how much cheaper is it?

Well I will give an estimate based on Worcester England as its where I live generally when I am in the UK. More expensive to live than many other regions but will work for a comparison I will take what is available which left 2 properties one is in a council estate and the other is a 1 bedroom home :-

1 bedroom terraced house for sale

Cost £100,000

Mortgage period 25 years

Monthly cost £614

£614 x 12 x 25 years = £184,200 (COST OF LOAN £84,200)

 

 

 

 

Shipping container home version :-

Land for Sale in Evesham (why Evesham because we want to move out of the City to a more rural location)

Guide Price: £20,000

Size: 2.5 acres (This is a big piece of land for the money)

Land Type: Small Holding

Planning Permission: No Planning Permission (not yet although allocation of temporary structures will be)

First concern is the £20,000 which is a huge chunk of change, I can either wait 2 years and save the money to buy the land cash (if its still available by then) or look to get a loan. Either is an option although if taking a loan on would involve a lot of hunting around for price comparisons and being able to pay it off early without penalty.

Even so if we estimated a cost of £35,000 to complete the purchase after all the interest was added in a worst case scenario we now have land to start our project on. The issues would be trying to negotiate the land usage with a “temporary structure” as shipping container homes often fall into this category and if needed look at pushing forward on other developments. I would be keen on a site as large as this to look at raising cattle for food as well as vegetables and fruit trees. Isn’t this more viable, sustainable and a better option than the house at £100,000? Wouldn’t it also be cheaper to construct, cheaper in loan payments, and cheaper to maintain? Isn’t it also a better location away from the city to give children a better environment to grow up in?

I struggle to find the logic in the fact assumptions that shipping container housing isn’t viable. May not be everyone’s cup of tea and I know many people sceptical of the idea at the same time they have never lived in or been to a working shipping container home which leaves their imagination thinking of a rusty old container.

Could go a little further than that with the holiday home concept where you will find literally thousands of caravans in the UK or in the US “trailer parks” full of temporary homes or weekend retreats depending who lives there. Many are smaller than shipping containers yet people pay a small fortune to live in them during peak holiday seasons near the coast.

Natural airflow cooling for a shipping container home

Natural-Ventilation-300x219

One of the things that often gets overlooked is the cooling systems on shipping container homes and its one of the reasons that puts many people off having one in hot climates. But if you take the picture above you can see the utilization of several natural ways to cool a building.

A- Is using a ducting system to allow hot air out and cold air into a building which could be utilized on a multiple stacked container home by adding ducting to the exterior rear of the building. You will also notice they have added ceiling ducting to help drive the hot air out.

B- As hot air naturally rises you can see from the sketch that creating a vent at the tip of your secondary roof (adding a secondary roof to shipping container homes drastically helps reduce heat build up as it provides shade) helps let the hot air build up out but even this is assisted by the ventilation ducts to help keep cooler air running along the inside of the roof.

C- The one that may seem obvious but I haven’t seen utilized in most of the designs I have seen is vented windows. As you can see the cool air flows into the property while the hot air travels along the ceiling and out.

These may not be ideal solutions in all locations and due to the extra costs of installation I would look at the general wind conditions of where your planning your container home and if this technology will work for the property or not. Another idea if very “breezy” for cooling is using the pitched roof for gathering cold air and forcing it into the property at a low level and thus allowing full use of the roof space you install for cooling.