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admin | Category: Shipping Container Construction | 29.09.2014
Having last looked at a temporary use of shipping containers as building blocks, with O+A's festival backdrop in Amsterdam, we're back in permanent territory (as permanent as new buildings are, that is) with 4D and A Architects' shipping container housing at New Jerusalem Orphanage at Gauteng, South Africa. In an email to Gizmag, Mia Anfield of 4D and A wrote that the idea to use shipping containers came from the fact that two were already on site for storage. Completed in December, 2011, the entire construction period lasted six months, though Anfield points out that this was delayed by the arrival of materials to the site, many of which were donated. One consideration when building with shipping containers is thermal performance, particularly during cold weather or on hot, sunny days. As part of the project, the old brick-built sleeping accommodation was converted into a new kitchen and dining room. Update September 7, 2013: This article has been amended, as the previously stated dimensions of the shipping containers, at 12 x 6 m, were incorrect. In the last few years, we have been seeing a growing interest in reusing shipping containers that have for a very long time been fulfilling a purpose that was very singular and very temporary. For instance, one needs to consider the climate of the area where they intend to build using shipping containers.
Another thing to consider when using shipping containers for your project is the vicinity of your property to major ports.
One of the biggest reasons as to why people like shipping containers is their security and safety.
If you decide to use shipping containers for construction, you should also consider the aesthetical aspect of it all.
Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture designed this orange container home for clients in San Jose, Costa Rica. This structure, which was exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is called the MDU, or Mobile Dwelling Unit, and was designed by Lot-EK. Note the white corrugated wall; that should tip you off that this is the interior of a shipping container home. Poteet Architects, a firm known for its adaptive reuse of existing buildings, designed this 32-square-foot guest house in San Antonio, Texas using a shipping container. The emerald green-accented Crossbox house in Brittany, France was designed by CG Architects.
Cove Park, located on 50-acres of Scotland’s west coast, is a community of established artists. This Adam Kalkin Container House in Califon, New Jersey, is three shipping containers wide by two shipping containers tall.
This perfectly simple, wood clad, absolutely horizontal 40-foot cargo container house sits on a flat site in the Galician countryside of Spain. Maziar Behrooz Architecture designed this 840-square-foot art studio next to the client’s house in the summer enclave of the Hamptons on Long Island, New York.
In my mind recycling shipping containers for buildings is a great use for an otherwise obsolete product. Just an FYI , The SEED Project is actually developing unused shipping containers as Emergency alternative housing options for people impacted by disasters. Its great to see continued interest in Container based Construction – to be honest I wasn’t sure if it was a fade that would die out of not but just like the Tiny Homes they have staying power !
This a great list and is a great way that recycled shipping containers can continue to be useful even after they are done being shipped all around the world.
We have an exciting new sea container project that you might be interested in following up in Canada. I would like to bring this kind of home made by container in my family land in Africa (RDC). I’m a big fan of cargotecture and I love how these virtually indestructible crates lying around us can be repurposed to serve as stylish modular living spaces. I believe that they have a great potential and something has to be done about the negative public perception of this concept.

I really love using shipping containers on my designs, the idea captured my interest in designing houses like this.. The project is among the more ambitious uses of shipping containers we've seen, using 28 containers in all. The company had already been interested in the work of Adam Kalkin, an American architect and prefabrication specialist who was among the first to put shipping containers to use as houses. The project used 28 6- and 12-meter (20- and 40-foot) containers arranged both vertically and horizontally. We put this to Anfield, who said that design measures included "orientation of the building, timber screens constructed of eco-friendly composite decking, use of a roof garden for thermal mass and the inside walls and ceilings of the containers were clad in dry wall plus 50mm Isotherm foam insulation." The containers were raised on plinths to encourage the flow of air. Namely, due to relation of the costs of shipping back empty containers to the costs of making a new shipping container, these heavy metal “boxes” have mostly been discarded after a single use. If the area is very hot for the most part of the year, a shipping container, on its own, will feel like a microwave oven. We are talking about projects that will involve using shipping containers for their intended, original use.
It does not matter if you use them to ship goods or if you intend to convert them into standing structures for living or business purposes; you will be glad to know that shipping containers are extremely durable and safe.
If you do not wish your shipping container to be visible and if you intend to cover it up as such, then there is no point in using them for construction.
The bedrooms are in the containers while the entry, dining, living, and a loft is in the center area. Upcycled steel shipping containers were used for a steel frame, which was then clad with a sustainable bamboo facade. The project involved transforming a mechanical room and adding a bedroom with a patio on the roof.
In fact, this Houston residence is composed of three containers, to make a total of 1,538-square feet of living space.
The interior is lined with bamboo plywood for the floor and the walls and the deck is made out of recycled soda bottles.
Two shipping containers are cantilevered above two more, and there’s a planted roof too. In 2002, Container City created three cubes made of shipping containers to act as artist retreats, and another six were added in 2006. Glass on two sides allows ample light to shine in, and the industrial materials continue throughout, with a concrete floor and steel beams and columns. Its porch and removable awning allow for outdoor enjoyment, which is ideal since it’s a summer house. They used two shipping containers which were painted dark charcoal to match the main house; both blend into the surrounding woods. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot. There is just as much honesty in using the container as a design system, and then decorating it how you like.
The link below is great blog and infographics that details the life of a shipping container from new to retirement where it could possibly become a new home. Easier fabrication into a home, and if you keep the doors original format you can torch the locking bars off then use a more conventional door locking system. You can actually find container homes all over the country, from the beach, to the jungle, to the mountains. I put together a few reasons why I think these container homes are a viable housing alternative together with a few examples and links for companies in Canada. It allows anybody to make ecologically sensitive choices that would normally be too cost-heavy for the average homeowner. Between this, tiny homes, and the people that Pinterest their wooden palate creations my evenings are pretty much booked for internet time.

Architects Fulton + Salomon have been specializing in container architecture for many years with projects worldwide. Lately, however, more and more people are using them for construction projects that have been, in many cases, extremely interesting, cost-efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
They are extremely heavy when they are full and transporting them to the nearest port can become quite an expense and you might be better off without them. They can only be penetrated with dynamite or a blow torch, which is something to keep in mind. The good news is that you can do incredible things with shipping containers that will make them eye-catching and more than exciting as a building “material”. The project is planned to be off-the-grid using solar orientation, passive cooling, green roofs, pellet stove heating, and photovoltaics to create electricity.
The home includes a rainwater collection system, solar cell-clad green roof, skylights, and permeable paving. When traveling, its sub-volumes are pushed in to fill the entire container, and then interlock so the container is left flush and can be shipped worldwide.
Pictured above is a yellow aluminum container that has been partially deconstructed to become an open outdoor space. Architect Christopher Robertson of local firm Robertston Design says one of the goals was to make it feel like a typical home. Rustic fir flooring and mahogany closing doors ensures it works in its wooded surroundings. Everyone has personal taste, and where is the fun in building a house if you can’t decorate it.
High Cubes allow for much better air circulation and loft storage or other loft interior options. Great for DIYers as you can leave your MIG welder power source inside, ground it to the shell, then take a suitcase feeder where every you like. And in most cases feels more like a sleek designer pad than a house built from used shipping containers.
We also assist clients in source their containers with modifications completed before the containers are delivered to site.
This one combines disclosure of what it’s made of with a sense of beauty perfectly, I love it! Still, one needs to be sure that the shipping containers are the best way to go and therefore, one needs to consider a number of things before they actually decide on using a shipping container, or more, for their project.
This problem, when shipping containers are used for shipping and storage, can be circumvented by using container shelters.
If you are near a port or if you have your own transport that can handle shipping containers, they will cut down your shipping prices dramatically. When in use, the sub-volumes are pushed out, and its 500-square-foot interior is suitable for living and working. However, if it is going to be a home or an office, the construction of container shelters will negate the point of using a container shelter. I love the idea of cladding with that wonderfully durable & sustainable material bamboo. Of course, it is always possible to install some serious insulation and solve this problem in another way.
Our largest project is conference centre, hotel, 400 student apartments and 400 luxury apartments all on a new cruise ship pier in Australia. See twelve homes that make them work and check out our resources for shipping container builders and plans at the end of the article.

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