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 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.

The Shipping Container Excess Only Blessing Out Of The Economic Collapse Of The West?

I think the shipping container is an odd beast when it comes to the excess the West has had on imports from the East at the same time not only is it part of the problem stacked up in ports as a symbol of excess but also its part of the solution if developed into housing because it takes a minimalist concept for most home developers.

In reality we see the collapse of economies riddled with debt right now yet the solution always comes back to “stop spending!” there is no easy fix. Shipping container homes are a home you can’t clutter up with a TV in every room as often you only have one room. You don’t buy new furniture every year as generally you find things that suit “you” not the fashion trends and just generally the shipping container home pushes the fact we are living in a world of excess that we really don’t need.

When I am working in the UK I literally have two bags with me which is my work gear, laptop and casual clothes pretty much that’s it besides the vehicle I use. I live for up to 8 months of the year like that I don’t starve, I don’t run out of things to do but what happens is I am surprisingly mobile and have a lot of excess income because I don’t buy things I don’t need.

It was living like this that put me into minimal living and the shipping container homes as simply its achievable not only for me but many other people who know how to use the environment around them. Sitting out gazing at the stars instead of sat in the house watching a soap opera. Spending time dining out with friends instead of eating a microwave meal in the kitchen.

I personally think the excess shipping containers that are now starting to dwindle away in areas due to the rise of container housing and other uses as well as reduced surplus is a good thing long term if people start changing their habits. As a child I remember one TV in the house and generally I spent a lot of time with my family, as I grew older though I spent my time in my bedroom, my brothers in theirs, my sister in hers and my parents in the sitting room. If anything the excess of current living has divided the family and its about time things started to function again as a family unit and I am sure shipping container home families are no doubt happier than many others out there in normal homes purely because of the way they choose to live outside the box and not be driven by consumerism and do take the time to spend life in the outdoors as well as an affordable home.

Benefits Of Shipping Containers Housing

shipping container refuge Its still something that is being debated on the practicalities of using shipping containers as homes. At the same time showing some of the benefits of shipping container housing can hopefully answer some of those questions.

  • First thing is excess to requirements, they are easy to come by and not hard to find ports full of them and at a cheaper price than traditional construction methods would cost for a similar structure building block.
  • In international shipping the shipping containers are cheap to come by due to having a short life expectancy for shipping often only a few years, unless your living somewhere like the Philippines where I have seen containers still in daily use from the 80s!
  • By design they are made to resist harsh seas and oceans and this gives not only a strong building structure but also an anti corrosive structure avoiding the salt air. The strong reinforced floors with marine glade plywood or timbers, vandal proof robust doors as well as weather resistant paint make it a hardy building block.
  • Modular construction use is also something that is important as you can build a home in phases with a bit of planning adding shipping containers as your budget allows.

These are but a few of the positive reasons shipping containers make great homes but lets not stop there, searching through you will see many other uses from doctors surgeries to schools and even radio stations. Then add to that the emergency housing aspect allowing moving containers around the world to disaster zones or construct on site as well as being able to construct entire villages in a short time period make the shipping container not only a single based solution but a multi functional concept for many of the worlds problems.

Folding shipping container

folding shipping container

There is a bit of divide between people being green wanting to reuse old containers and those looking to build a budget home. At the same time one of the biggest costs involved with shipping container homes as well as shipping containers in general is transportation. So in reality having folding shipping containers is not only green because it would reduce the number of empty containers stacked up at ports by being able to make it cost affective to send containers back empty. But also for someone like me who’s interested in the modular construction having folding units means transporting to where they will be used as construction blocks can reduce costs by being able to transport several on the same truck. As well as obviously reduce fuel usage for those thinking on the green side.

Size wise this design by Staxxon actually reduces a containers size by 4/5ths meaning you can get 4 containers in the same space that one would normally occupy. Only real issue is how do you transport loads of these at once? ideally it should form up a container from 4 folded ones but I believe currently it can’t but also to be moved around cranes and other equipment would need to be adapted so another expensive headache although with fuel prices increasing modifying equipment may pay in the long run as well as the fact if a single unit can be built from 4 locking together that may get round the problem.

Shipping Container Office Buildings – Philippines

Gothong Southern - Shipping containers 

Shipping container modular buildings may not be the first thing to spring to mind when thinking of filling a companies needs in a tropical climate. At the same time anywhere near the ports it makes a lot of sense as its in keeping with the local area as well as easy to have delivered. Here in Cebu, Philippines I spent a day looking for shipping container modular buildings around the city and port area. A couple of reasons in doing so the first one being most people can’t believe people would use a shipping container to live or work inside because they are “too hot” and secondly I am very interested in cargotecture and shipping container modular buildings.

shipping container office and seating

This one I noticed when I first came to Cebu and it makes a lot of sense during the day to have seating so high up. Road dust off the main road is bad as well as the surrounding area being built up restricting airflow but also concrete density increases heat. Sitting up above three shipping containers your literally getting the best the local area has to offer with airflow and arguably cleaner air.

Shipping Container Office - Cebu, Philippines

Another Shipping container office one of the better developed ones but also its located in a shipping container yard so no issue in getting shipping containers for the project!JAJ Aggregates - Shipping container offices Cebu, PhilippinesJAJ Aggregates - Shipping container offices Cebu, Philippines

JAJ Aggregates is one of the most interesting cargotecture designs I have come across in the local area as its suspended one side of the building in air sat on two concrete pillars (you can’t see its Sunday which is obviously wash day). The two concrete pillars are sat behind the laundry.Shipping container building - Cebu,Philippines

 A shipping container office still in development. Something to do with a local truck haulier, often people live in the trucks and its likely this is either going to be an office for the vehicle owners or a rest place on route for the drivers. That extra bit of paint will make a huge difference to the left side!

How To Find A Shipping Container

When looking to buy a Shipping Container for property use of some description the first issues should be what planning issues you may hit. In many cases the regulations don’t interfere with shipping containers as they are seen as “temporary buildings”. I know someone who has a huge shed which has only two restrictions which were height and square metre size “per year”. This meant that although he couldn’t go any higher than one level he has literally built to his maximum square metre limit every year for the last 10 years giving him a workshop that covers at least 800sqm of floor space more than he will ever need. At the same time due to the type of work he did it also suited him as the majority of materials were recovered from replacements on roofs of properties he was repairing that the owners were just glad to see the end of.

Now if your unsure or thinking your going to struggle hit the car and head round looking for people in your area and maybe ask in places like Yahoo answers about “city building codes” in your areas. The reason for this is if you can find people who have already done it you can find out how they got round the problem. Often it can be a green city engineer involved who can help push the idea and get it passed. Before I submit any paperwork for requirements I normally sketch up some rough plans and invite those who are likely to oppose the idea to come and view the location and talk about it as well as show them how it won’t become an eye sore to the area but actually enhance it.

Once your sure the planning isn’t going to be an issue its time to start hunting a container down. Ports may be the obvious way to find a container but what about searching for hauliers in the area? For example one near my parents delivers wine to a warehouse everyday but the containers leave empty back to port. This means there is a good chance you can cut a deal on the container delivered to your door if they have a spare one available saving on the commuting costs as you will hopefully only be paying for the container plus the delivery cost from when its unloaded at the yard if anything.

Classified ads are another place to find containers but often you will come across containers that don’t have any way of being loaded which means you have the expense of loading and unloading which is fine if you can locate equipment near both locations to do it or negotiate that loading is the sellers problem. Often though in the classifieds you can find shipping containers for free because they may have been put in location for a tool shed for example while an office complex or house was built and now its in the way, which is why it may pay to get one of these especially near the end of a construction job as there may be a JCB or other machinery that can lift it already on site and a quick £20 in the drivers pocket and your loaded.

Why build a house with shipping containers?

In this question i can only answer for myself and it has many reasons for me choosing the shipping container route.

Firstly economically the shipping containers here are a little expensive at P160,000 refurbished for a 40ft container compared to people struggling to sell them for around P14,000 in the UK at least before the recession. But the Philippines has its ports in balance or at least it may seem to as the prices may fluctuate but end up around the same price most of the time. At the same time I would estimate a basic concrete structure of the same size costing around P200,000 which is basic hollow block that does have a tendency to crack and also the fact its concrete it holds heat. I do hear skeptical people out there often telling me how I should compare a shipping container building at 12.00 in the afternoon but if you want the hottest time of the day its around 3pm. But my whole idea is based round the environment of the home. If its built down a slope in a way that directs it away from the sun or under the shade of trees no doubt that would be called cheating at the same time this is the problem I am looking for a home that is environmental at the same time cost affective.

Add to that the headaches i have had with builders and to be honest easiest option is to drop a container on top of another for me as i would only need to guide a crane in on the next floor and do the work myself without relying on other people to cock things up. This also means i save money considerably on lost labor as sitting there watching them as is common here in the Philippines means i am not working doing what i normally do resulting in 2 wasted salaries as no doubt i still won’t be happy with the end result because as soon as i go for a pee or to grab a sandwich they will rush to do something stupid destroying the whole job. Shipping containers can be done modular which means i can build a ground floor reception room one month and a bedroom or bathroom next because firstly containers are solid structures with nothing that can be stolen and secondly i can work it round me. Which also means if i am broke for a few months doesn’t matter as the roof is already on the building regardless of if there is a roof or not the structure is designed to withstand the elements so no risk of over expansion and contraction of concrete because there isn’t any.

Noise is also another issue that really is starting to annoy me here in the Philippines to the point i am tempted to move at the moment as for some reason the landlady has had 8 fighting cocks (birds!) pitched outside my kitchen and sitting room windows. No doubt rented to someone else but i find the constant noise beyond annoying as generally i am easy going but they are literally a couple of feet away from my windows. At the same time trying to rent out a couple of apartments to help the landlady out is now looking at seeing mine empty as well. Shipping container ever spent any time in one? not a lot of noise rattling around only get the outside elements when you start adding windows which from now on will be long but UPVC sliding doors with solar reflective film. Something I haven’t mentioned before i spent 18 months installing solar film in government buildings on a contract out of Bromsgrove many moons ago yet as Graeme said to me himself he can’t understand why people aren’t using it here as it would cut down on electric bills as well as heat. But like most things is it supposed to make sense in the third world?

Anyway on a final note the other reason being is i spent most of my life in construction and engineering which makes an industrial unit more like home than anything else as i spent up to 16 hours a day on sites for most of my life. Industrial modern is a look i like and feel at home with at the same time a keen interest on the environment has now also caught my eye so combining the two will give me the home i can call home.