The Vissershok School – Shipping Container Classroom in South Africa

The Vissershok School - Shipping Container Classroom in South Africa

This practical and child friendly shipping container classroom by Tsai Design Studio was made for underprivileged children on the outskirts of Cape Town. Although limited in space to just 12 square meters the classroom gives  teaching room for 25 children between the ages of 5 and 6. During the afternoon it serves as a library for the whole Vissershok primary school. The classroom project was sponsored by three south African companies Woolworths, Safmarine, and AfriSam with the school primarily being used by children who’s parents are local farm workers living in the Du Noon township.

The project idea was the brainchild of 15 year old Marshaam Brink, who responded to Woolworths’ “Making the Difference Through Design” competition with a jungle gym concept. This was then passed over to Tsai Design, who grew her idea into this bright and inspiring learning space. It was Tsai that introduced the idea of a double roof to allow air to create natural cooling while the upper roof also offered some shade to help reduce heat build up. The concrete steps also work as a gathering and meeting area for discussions with the children, a vegetable patch helps educate the children about gardening as well as a source of food.

Shipping container classrooms seem to be cropping up more often and the fact it was a 15 year old that came up with this original idea also shows that the concept has a younger audience already interested and aware of what can be achieved by recycling shipping containers.

The Vissershok School - Shipping Container Classroom in South Africa

The Vissershok School - Shipping Container Classroom in South AfricaThe Vissershok School - Shipping Container Classroom in South Africa

The Vissershok School - Shipping Container Classroom in South AfricaThe Vissershok School - Shipping Container Classroom in South Africa

Freight Into Homes Will It Continue With The Recession?

I have already heard of some people struggling to get hold of shipping containers due to demand at the same time I do believe its more of a regional problem as freight containers end up more in ports than obscure areas of a country. Fact is the governments may be telling us its all a glitch, a recession, something that will just go away but in reality we have been importing way more than the economies of Western countries can afford to pay for. On top of this when I look round I see most of the stuff is things we don’t even need. So is it a bad thing if all this stuff travelling half way round the world reduces and you don’t get this years replica shirt of your favourite sports personality? I don’t think so as simply consumerism is a beast that has almost brought the West to its knees about time freight being imported was re-evaluated and even tighter embargo’s being put into place to help reduce debt.

Freight into homes is still not a problem even with the rise of people picking up on the shipping container living simply because there are millions of containers sat in ports all over the place. A reduce in freight tied with the recession means that shipping containers are just as likely to stay in ports if not more as quantities of goods reduce. I am sure even if container living when mass production in recycling containers we still wouldn’t get through the excess stock over a 10 year period. So those thinking its a fad and that shipping container prices may get out of control due to demand, I would just say its not going to happen. If anything rethinks of shipping containers is going to happen and redesigns such as foldable containers are going to be more and more on the market if the container business stayed the way it is. On the other hand with huge drops in exchange rates in the last few years its more likely we are going to see more containers on return journeys and a balance of trade starting to develop, Time will tell.

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.

Large conventional styled shipping container home 12 x 40ft containers.

Another fine example of taking what seems to be a stack of containers into a luxury home. As you can see in the photo there is no fancy shapes or designs in the structure but actually doing what containers do and stacking them. A few of the container sides have been removed to open up the rooms.large shipping container home 12x40ft container home

As the roof is added the home starts to take shape an added bonus to the shipping container structure is that the extra strength in recycling the containers actually makes the roof structure strong enough to add a green roof.large shipping container home 12x40ft container home

In the third photo you can really see the home start to look like a luxury house at this stage its a case of adding insulation cover and/or over cladding www.sgblocks.com who design these homes say that for energy efficency adding the appropriate coatings you can see a reflection rate of around 95% on exterior radiation as well as a strong resistance to lose interior heat/cooling. On top of that a great infiltration barrier against water.

large shipping container home 12x40ft container home

One thing for sure with the world recession in play many people have woken up to the practical uses of using shipping containers as homes.

Practical Houseboat for lake use

A floating home which appears mainly from timber construction but offers an interesting design for a home on waterways. No doubt could be adapted if not already to utilize sustainable materials. The home was actually prefabricated and travelled from the contractors workshop from another location on the lake. Although the timber frame also makes this a lighter home for construction, I am sure that shipping containers could be used in the same way as the shape of the home could easily be adapted to shipping container usage for recycling containers at the same time if looking to do something similar. Here in the Philippines for example timber isn’t always practical due to cost as well as termites. Which is the main reason most construction here is done in concrete.Practical Houseboat for lake usePractical Houseboat for lake usePractical Houseboat for lake use

Most people think of prefab construction as being off-site pieces assembled on site – floating a whole house was quite a task but saved time, energy and money in the long run. It is a rare building that can be more cheaply built to float than to sit on land.