Indoor Hydroponics – McMurdo Ice Station Antarctica

Indoor Hydroponics - McMurdo Ice Station Antarctica

Activity on the Shipping containers is a bit slow right now so decided to start looking at other containers that are relevant. This one for example is relevant in two ways as its part of green living as well as housed in a container. For which I am going to start looking to add in more green fingered activities on the blog as well to help expand things out a bit from construction and design of shipping containers into a broad way of container living.

This is the McMurdo Ice Station in Antarctica which is a science and support facility. Everything that is going into the South Pole will pass through McMurdo making it a bit of a mailbox for the most remotest place on the planet. During peak season you will find around 1500 but when the skies turn dark its left with a skeleton staff of support crew and engineers.

Indoor Hydroponics - McMurdo Ice Station Antarctica

What has all this got to do with Hydroponics your probably wondering, well in that container building under a rather white sky you will find a lot of plant life in one of the harshest living condition environments in the world. It all began with someone wanting fresh food over tinned and frozen goods. Initially seeking to start with tomatoes wasn’t long until a pilot was bringing in seeds and a small idea became a big reality. Ok may not seem so big here! but if your used to living on tinned and frozen food having some fresh produce makes a huge difference in life when away for months without it.

Indoor Hydroponics - McMurdo Ice Station Antarctica

Add to that though  the bleak surroundings and the dry environment of the Antarctic the hydroponics garden doesn’t just become a food source but a place of life and an injection of light as well as humidifiers giving a more “at home in the garden” feel. It no so surprise that people would want to spend spare time in there with months of living in the Antarctic.

Indoor Hydroponics - McMurdo Ice Station Antarctica

The interesting thing here though is to add most of what you see is more like a scrapheap challenge than some scientific adventure. Reason being is bringing stuff to the remote station is often expensive and infrequent. Budgets may be allowed for projects on going but not for the vegetables for your plate. Everything has been pretty much been salvaged where possible but lucky they have the right people in the right place to pull it off. A hot bed of grey matter working away to get it up and running. No scientific experiment going on just people who love good food and willing to put a bit of effort in to make it happen.

Indoor Hydroponics - McMurdo Ice Station Antarctica

Photo credits owner unknown.

2 x 20ft container home Bangkok Thailand by BlueBrown

Container homes don’t have to be ugly homes and here is a design and built home in Bangkok in an area that suffers with high heat.

 

imageA roof was added for heat reflection as well as a gap underneath to allow airflow, adding the porch canopy also assists in removing heat from the main building. The added deck area also gives a large open space to sit and enjoy the surroundings especially if this type of building gets used in a vacation home type scenario were your escaping the city for the weekend. 

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Not big, not overbearing simply compact and functional. Something that would suit many beach,resort locations with a more scattered approach to buildings instead of one main block. At the same time size wise ideal for even the smallest of lots.

 

Shipping Container Home–Ideal First Home

I moved out to the Philippines due to thoughts running through my head in 2007 that firstly the housing markets were overpriced but secondly there was no starter homes being built to get me on the ladder to pay off the debt 100% within 10 years. Instead I was looking at homes bigger than I needed which in turn would leave me up to my neck in debt as well as expensive heating and electricity bills for space I would under utilize. All these were signs the world had gone housing mad based on presuming more people would be paying more at the bottom to feed the obsession of profit on houses at the top.

In reality it wasn’t and isn’t sustainable and the collapse of the markets today show it to be fact. Problem is now banks are lending less money to less people where do you get on the ladder to start with? Homes are often still too big for first time buyers due to budget restraints yet shipping container homes could be the alterative for low cost housing. I have to admit though I don’t think low cost has to equal low quality.

Advantages of low cost housing using shipping containers is that your development can be done in phases and done correctly adding enough insulation in the walls to make the home have a great insulation property from not only the elements but sound proofed. Adding to that designing the house round the environment it exists is also an important factor. For example living plant walls or shade provide a way to shield the house if in the country side making it pretty difficult to notice its even there. Same as constructing along mountain sides or other locations that obscure the fact the home is there. On a city front colours can be used to brighten up the location or blend it into its surroundings all adapting to existing buildings in the area.

Most importantly the footprint is small in square metres allowing land to be purchased for the task at reasonable cost or should I say could even be bought cash in some cases. Allowing the budget to also be phased in over time. As the budget allows you can adapt construction to it matching the funding to the containers being bought so that the first container offers up a 1 – 2 bedroom small functional home which is limited but once a second level is added you can expand the home out and continue to rise 3 – 4 storeys high on a small piece of land.

Planning issues may be an initial problem which is why I request anyone with photos to share the homes they have built and how they got round any doubts town planners had on your projects.

I believe shipping container homes can give homes to families on limited budgets just as much as it can give homes to an eco friendly couple or architect looking to win a design prize. They are a housing solution being embraced in many countries already but with the excess containers at ports this could be a recycling project that can solve both housing and the dumping of the containers no longer needed.

Modern but simple house boat – Uboat

First looking at this you can easily see why a shipping container could be used for the central hub of the building. As well as looking into it a bit more to see it can’t only be a simple design but with some interesting uses of technology for electric, water and heating/cooling. Initially house boats seem to be designed to keep the poorer less refined members of public out but this design does actually show it can be sustainable, minimalistic and cost effective.

modern house boat - Uboat by Wyatt Little

The simple design is based on a core unit with a lower deck area which is mimmiced in size by the roof section to allow shade for the exterior deck. On top of that the green roof area of the Uboat by Wyatt Little also offers solar energy to assist in powering the house boat.

 

modern house boat - Uboat by Wyatt Little

Add to that the geothermic loop to regulate the interior temperature of the property and you have an ambient temperature courtesy of your watered surroundings. Add to that the ability to draw up grey water as well as rainwater collectors on the green roof your water supply starts to become sustainable.

Maybe not 100% practical cost wise but the concept is something that could be utilized in other ways. The deck area with matching roof makes sense for container houses as it would help reduce heat build up as it keeps the heat away from the sides of the core building. Its looking into these ideas, concepts and thoughts that open up new ideas and practical solutions to shipping container homes.

modern house boat - Uboat by Wyatt Little modern house boat - Uboat by Wyatt Little

Cutting a shipping container opening

First safety tip of the day is be aware that the metal is heavy and your unlikely to know how heavy unless you have either lifted a precut piece or have just cut it out and now realize its heavier than you thought. Would advise when cutting to make sure you organize things so it falls the right way as well as make sure nobody can wander in the way. When moving parts its worth getting another pair of hands to help rather than struggle.

When cutting always try to cut from the outside either by using a plasma cutter or as I have seen several people use an angle grinder. This allows the fumes to escape rather than build up which is what would happen if you worked inside. Would also advise wearing a mask as you don’t know the content of the paint and removal of floor prior to cutting. If using a disc cutter of any kind make sure your working in an area that doesn’t have passers by due to the risk of sparking as well as broken parts of disc flying off. Always wear eye protection.

Plasma cutter will rank above using a disc cutter because of its ease of cutting once setup.Adding metal tubes etc as straight edges as a guide will glide you through the motion of cutting the steel. The time saved especially if working in extreme hot or cold conditions is phenomenal over using a disc cutter but if you have the time and a tight budget would go with the disc cutter unless you can get a rental of a plasma cutter. Bit of an expensive tool to buy for a one off job. Remove the floor in advance of cutting its generally full of pesticides and of no use in a container home, check you have everything it needs as some require a combination of compressor as well as a specialist outlet all can be hired or bought but best to ask while at the store. Be aware there is a potential of fire so be cautious of your surroundings no point cutting on some dried grass on a field for example unless you fancy making the evenings TV report. When your cutting get on with it the tips will burn quickly and are expensive so utilize them as much as possible. You will get hot pieces fall away and this is why you need to make sure there is no hazard that could start a fire from the heat. One of the most important things as a final note is always work in pairs, you could be cutting and not see the potential of a fire breaking out behind you as pieces drop concentrating on the job at hand, you are at risk of falling steel plate and at the same time everything such as measuring is easier with two as your doing a lot of vertical work so if clamping things down for a straight edge to cut having a guy on the top while your lining up the bottom means you end up clamping things a lot easier saving you time and making sure the measurements are correct. Measure twice cut once is the golden rule.

10 best shipping container homes (small)

D3 Architects - France

1st place has to go to D3 Architects for this unique home design that is not only functional but very modern.

BlueBrown - Thailand

2nd place goes to Blue Brown for their modern home design utilizing a second roof as well as maximizing their floor area.

Krabi province - Thailand home and restaurant

3rd places goes to this Restaurant and home in Thailand that puts practical and functional to the test. Small floor area but the added spaces and canopies make this place look a lot bigger than it really is.

Port a bach - container home New Zealand

4th Place goes to Port A Bach in New Zealand mainly down to maximizing the containers usage and space. Best use of space I have seen yet.

Cove Park artist retreat - Scotland

5th place goes to Cove Park’s artists retreats as they blend in with their surroundings as much as possible at the same time very functional homes.Container retreat – Hybrid architecture Seattle

6th Place goes to Seattle for the C320 home by Hybrid Architecture for this modern retreat.

Container home – Modular weeHouse – Wisconsin USA

7th Place goes to the U.S.A. with this modular home that is ideal as a holiday retreat or for those loving the outdoor life.Research facility and accommodation - Queensland Australia

8th Goes to Queensland Australia for this very functional and practical building that puts usage before anything else every part of the container is utilized to the needs of the research site.

Container House in Texas by Jim Poteet

9th Place goes to Texas for this artists home/work area which is cozy by design as well as offers a pleasant home that doesn’t leave a blot on the landscape.

Container retreat Sri lanka     

10th Place goes to Sri Lanka for this retreat maximizing local materials to form up a second level as well as offering a practical weekend retreat.