Why Consider Shipping Container Architecture?
March 1, 2013
Remember when you were a child and could make anything with a cardboard box? Inventive kids can make dog houses, rocket ships, forts, theaters, kitchens, cars… Give them two or three boxes, and watch out. Shipping container architecture takes us back to that innate imagination, that drive to create, the willingness to experiment, the resourcefulness to do with what we have. Just like their cardboard cousins, steel boxes can become virtually anything we care to imagine.
Why consider building your home, office, workspace, restaurant, shop, event booth, or gallery from shipping containers?
- They are there! There are over 17 million shipping containers in the world, and thousands come into North America every day. It is incredibly costly to “deadhead” the containers, or ship them back empty, so on wharfs and piers they sit.
- Eco-conscious. Reusing the containers is even more environmentally friendly than recycling because it uses a fraction of the energy to modify them. Add some solar-power and a rooftop garden, and you have a remarkably green home.
- Cost. In 2008, shipping containers were priced to move. Since then, the cost has increased. But even given that, structures cost less. The Container City in London, for instance, was installed in four days and fitted out in five months. This saves millions in labor and contractor fees – not to mention, the City was up, running, and collecting rents in a fraction of the time of a traditional commercial/residential complex.
- They’re mobile. While structures can be incorporated into the landscape, fixed, and permanent, they can also be transported to different locations. Many communities in rural South Africa, for instance, have mobile shipping container schools to accommodate more children and allow them to continue their educations.
- Size. Shipping containers come in 20, 40, 45, and 53 foot lengths. The recent craze for “micro-homes” makes them an ideal size for not only homes but dorm rooms, hotel rooms, offices, examination rooms, and many other applications.
- Adaptability. If you want more room, you can modify containers. They are made to stack up to ten high, and they can be placed in a variety of different configurations to optimize space. If you want vaulted ceilings, you can have them. If you want a multi-story home or workspace, you can have it. If you want windows, skylights, balconies, and other features, you can have them. These containers are incredibly versatile and can be designed to suit your needs.
They’re fun. As good a reason as any! You can gawk for hours at some of the creations owners and architects have dreamed up and made reality. From sleek and sophisticated, to rugged and industrial, to colorful and bold, container architecture is imaginative, creative, and limitless. They are not only great for homes, they can help differentiate businesses and give them a boost of the cool factor.