Photos: Paula Alvarado.
Although the idea seems simple the thoughts are far reaching, The educational points in different parts of the city are part of the Proa foundation in La Boca neighborhood, Buenos Aires. Developed by arcihtecture studio a77 utilizing a shipping container and recycled materials to make furniture.
"The Nomad Cultural Center is a project of urban pedagogy whose goal is to generate bonds with the community and to find in it a fertile ground for learning, with active participation channels through experimentation, workshops, laboratories and other actions alike," say the organizers of the space.
The project follows a77’s study of transitory habitable spaces, and its modular nature allows it to be adapted to different spaces and situations in the city.
The first place it seen its use was La Boca a neighbourhood that not only is a tourist trap but also houses one of the worst polluted rivers on the planet the Matanza Riachuelo. The free activities teach about sustainability and people were asked to think of all the fish and birds that used to exist in the area which are now gone, adding to this to think of other cities and how they will become in the future. Environmental awareness for the next generations.
Not our usual typical shipping container home but the residence of Claude Lord a former Canadian Forces soldier. The image and story about Claude came to light in a Montreal newspaper because of the issues of Claude getting his military pension that he is entitled to. It was the involvement of a local businessman that helped Claude back onto his feet although today he is still far from life changing except for the ability to collect his $1,200 cheque every month. Veterans Affairs Canada and social workers regularly meet Claude as they try to assist him into finding a normal residence as although I personally am into shipping container housing this isn’t exactly the situation I would ever want to find someone in. The neighbourhood where the container resides has working prostitutes, thieves and also the container itself isn’t insulated and after 7 years nearly all of them in the container Claude has decided to call it a day and find a more appropriate home.
The interesting part of the story though is that Scully someone who works near the container helped Claude work through six months of paperwork to get access to the pension including going to appoints and meetings across town. Scully’s main concern that now all the paperwork side is done and Claude is on the way to an improved life what about other veterans who are in the same situation saying “"Does a homeless person have a Day timer (for keeping track of appointments)? Does he have an alarm clock? Does he have electricity? Does he have a telephone? Does he have bus fare? Is he hung over at 8 o’clock in the morning?”
Claude was discharged from the army in 1979 but wasn’t eligible at the time for a pension due to only serving four and a half years with the First Field Engineers at CFB Valcartier, Que. Scully discovered the requirements had changed though some time ago and this was how helping Claude get his pension came about. Claude suffers with post-traumatic-stress disorder that resulted from an explosion in 1977 which has left him with reoccurring nightmares every day of the events that day which seen two other soldiers killed and several wounded constantly replaying in his mind. He was still a young 19 year old back then and had been working on a bridge at the base when they heard a large explosion. They helped the injured cross the water including one person who had lost their arm.
"It was disgusting _ one of them didn’t have a head,” Lord recalled.
"The boat was full of blood. I’m sorry, but I wasn’t used to that sort of thing.”
The issues in Canada relating to the homeless sounds very similar to one in the UK where there is a huge amount of ex service personnel living rough often with mental issues caused by things they have seen during their service time. I just wish there was more highlighted about the problem to help people be able to help themselves as well as get the treatment many need.
Concrete base being constructed by local workers with steel uprights.
Shipping containers arriving to site and being dropped onto the supports and into position.
Now the containers are in place work starts on turning them into a dormitory first job cutting all those windows.
Next job is the internal framework of all the beds to be used in the dormitory as well as a few partitions going up for privacy.
Dormitory starts to take shape and the beds and walls become more recognisable as a workers home!
Outdoor sink areas made from concrete start to take shape.
Staircase now installed into position and its starting to look on the road to completion.
Extra roof over the container complex helps reduce heat in the building.
Handrails are added not just as a feature but also to help the guard monitor people entering and leaving.
Looking at the building from the road it gives a very professional finish to the property as it no doubt improves the look of the neighbourhood due to the amount of work gone into the design.
We have two methods of constructing a shipping container here. The photo above is using containers once used for rubbish collection. They lined with sand and a pool liner inserted over the top. Can’t get much simpler than that but the results for the neighbourhood are obvious.
The pool below utilizes a different method that I can only assume is a poly resin type coating coating the inside of the pool. It may outlast the pool above but not sure of the cost implications but either way both pools look great and would no doubt be a welcome addition to many a garden!
If looking to buy your shipping container always be aware where the seller is and the distance they are from you as well as the transportation options and cost to get it from the location of the shipping container seller to your place of construction. Buying without taking this into consideration can be an expensive mistake to learn. Trucking has never been cheap and adding to that you may need a crane or some other way of unloading the shipping container you need to way up the options of if its practical or better to wait until someone nearer has one for sale.
You really need to go over this list of things to consider when transporting a shipping container and be able to tick them all off before you get into a sales transaction :-
- Discuss within your neighbourhood with your neighbours in advance as you may be able to smooth disputes over before they happen as often its just a case of a “nosey neighbour” wanting to know what your up to rather than anything personal.
- Check the local town planning and regulations as discussing it with the people that may block it in advance lets them have they’re opinion and even as a temporary building just giving them the heads up they appreciate it and likely to leave you to it. Also as a temporary structure which is generally how shipping containers are seen your exempt of many of the legal requirements and standards of a "normal" building structure.
- The container will no doubt arrive on a semi tractor trailer which slides the shipping container off the back of the trailer so having a place set aside if you don’t have the final location ready such as the bottom of a dead end road or somewhere else its not going to be obtrusive until it can be relocated. I plan this even if I do have a crane due on site incase they have a breakdown or some other reason to reschedule. Access is also going to be an issue so make sure the road can take the weight and length of the truck and trailer as it will need to have enough room to get in and out.
- Height clearance for not only unloading the shipping container but also if a crane is needed to drop into final location. Power cables and telephone wires are a common issue. Contacting your power and telephone company if the wires are in the way should be done long in advance to find a solution.
- Be nice to the driver! Can’t say this enough as I after a long drive the driver may be unsociable but a cup of tea and a few biscuits go a long way as does maybe a little bribe to put the shipping container where you want it. Just be aware if putting it on the ground the risk of moisture and if possible try and get it situated off the ground. If its not going to be on the main road make the company aware in advance as they may request it to be lifted from the road side due to risk of the truck becoming embedded in soft ground and stuck.
- If its being situated somewhere temporary try and get it in a location that is suitably stable and even as well as having good drainage. The door ends twist which is why its important to get a level location as the doors will bind otherwise. On the drainage front try and get it sat on concrete footings, railroad sleepers or gravel something allowing water to drain away.
If your looking at making a statement and getting noticed Studio mk27 has been constructed on vibrant coloured shipping containers located in São Paulo’s most upmarket and trendiest neighbourhood. The shipping containers have been constructed 2 high and painted in bright fluorescent colours. The land is leased which is why the client wanted to source a movable low cost solution.
Added to this was a simple two storey high hanger using polycarbonate doors to allow opening up the store giving the feeling of space. The bright colours to give a modern and funky feel to the building is also to do with its location in the Alameda Gabriel Monteiro da Silva neighbourhood which being the last available land lot amongst a row of furniture stores it needed to make its own statement to attract customers with such stiff competition. Decameron Design needed something that had an eye catching design and utilizing shipping containers in this way with the flamboyant colours did the trick. The containers also give space to get an idea of how the furniture will fit into someone’s home due to being able to view furniture within the container units to imagine how it will fit in to the home.