Shipping containers as a building material has many uses. Container architecture which varies in size and location is often found as affordable housing, apartment and office spaces, construction trailers, food trucks, school buildings, hotels and stores. Other uses include emergency shelters, concession stands, training facilities, medical clinics, and even recording studios.
Notable Container Buildings
Homes and commercial spaces around the world have been constructed using shipping containers. The firm Urban Space Management completed the innovative live/ work space Container City I in London in 2000. In 2006, the first two story shipping container home in the United States, Redondo Beach House, was designed by architect Peter DeMaria. Also in 2006, Keetwonen, a student dormitory with each unit having a bathroom, kitchen, balcony, and a separate sleeping and study room was completed in Amsterdam as the biggest container city in the world by the Dutch company, Tempohousing. In 2015, architect Josue Gillet constructed Flying Box House a prefabricated home in Orgeres, France. Hotels, including the Alterra resort in Pinamar, Argentina, and the concept hotel by Hong Kong-based architects OVA Studio, Hive-Inn, are designed with shipping containers. Another trend is portable container hotels like UK's The Snoozebox Container Hotel and Belgium's Sleeping Around Hotel.
Advantages and Disadvantages
As with most building techniques, there are advantages and disadvantages when building with containers. Some of the advantages include the fact that shipping containers are strong, durable, easily transported and widely available. Furthermore, they can easily be stacked to create larger structures, are less labor-intensive to build with, require less expensive foundation as they are supported by their four corners, and eco-friendly. Not only is it a recycled material, but the amount of materials needed when building with shipping containers is reduced.
Some of the disadvantages include the development of rust, the need for heavy equipment to lift the containers, difficulty in obtaining a building permit, having to clean a possibly contaminated interior, manufacturing and because they are used, they may be damaged. Another disadvantage includes the fact that containers would have to be better insulated especially in areas with extremely hot weather as steel is a good conductor of heat. Additionally, flexibility in design is limited as containers are available in default sizes. What are your thoughts on shipping containers as a building material