Environment Magazine

Shipping Container Architecture: The New Era of Sustainable Housing

Posted on the 16 June 2017 by Rinkesh @ThinkDevGrow

There is a new and exciting trend sweeping over the globe, and an ever-growing number of people are making sustainable, eco-friendly homes out of shipping containers, enjoying the numerous benefits this new wave of architectural solutions brings. In case you have been searching for a new and exciting place to live that is not only affordable, but allows you to optimize, arrange and build a housing solution you’ve been dreaming of, then shipping containers present the most creative option available.

Here is how shipping container architecture is shaping our reality and way of life, and how you can benefit from its sustainable and ingenious features.

shipping-container

Sustainable Choice

In their essence, shipping containers are disposable items, or waste, if you will. This is due to the fact that most countries import goods on a much higher volume and frequency than they are able to export them, resulting in millions upon millions of shipping containers lying dormant in warehouses and shipyards around the world. The discouraging fact that it is far cheaper to receive new shipping containers than to send them back empty to the supplier prompts governments to adopt a money and energy saving policy in which these containers are labelled as waste.

On the other hand, while the benefits of such a policy might contribute to increased financial savings and energy preservation (containers are not melted down into parts and repurposed because such a project would waste energy), it also contributes to the global waste crisis, and fails to adhere to the necessity of recycling and reusing. In turn, such a policy is contributing to global warming and greenhouse gas emission due to increased production and resource waste, such as fossil fuels, and ironically, energy.

The current situation poses great threats for the environment and the future of the planet, yet the hope of turning the tides and putting effort into repurposing the shipping containers lies within innovative architectural solutions in the civil and governmental sectors.

By relieving the trade industry of container waste, buying the shipping containers at affordable prices, and repurposing them for building homes, hospitals, pools, playgrounds, warehouses and every other kind of housing space in between, people are contributing to the preservation of the environment.

Not only does shipping container architecture present a sustainable solution, but it also presents the most economical and effective solution for those who are less fortunate and in need of a home. Shipping containers are cheap and it doesn’t take a significant amount of resources to build shipping container communities for the homeless.

Price, Speed and Creativity

While sustainability plays a key role in the drive and the recent boom behind shipping container architecture, there are numerous accompanying benefits that make this trend the housing solution of the future.

Firstly, shipping containers are affordable. While new shipping containers come at a price, used containers that are in peak condition can be found for as low as $2000. When you combine several 30 -square-meter containers together, you are able to build a sizable living area at a very low price. Moreover, shipping containers come in various sizes and a standard rectangular shape, with standard sizes spanning from 10-metre to 3-metre-deep containers.

Typically, two 10-metre-deep containers are enough to build a solid foundation for your house, while smaller (and cheaper) containers can be used for additional features, rooms and construction updates. By removing a wall on each of the containers and welding them together, you can build a spacious living room easily, and by removing the upper sides, you can expand the ceiling to fit two more containers.

Secondly, the speed at which container homes are built is significantly higher than any other construction method, which is why it presents the best and most efficient solution for building homes quickly in areas where natural disasters are common. The simplest homes can be built in a matter of days if enough manpower is employed, and more complex living areas, such as your dream home, can be finished, buffed and polished in a matter of weeks.

There are two ways you can quickly build your container home. One is by stacking them together and cutting the openings, welding the sides and constructing the electrical and pipe networks, and the other is to cut and create all the necessary networks before you begin the stacking and positioning process. Your contractor should present you with the best option for your needs, while certain vendors, as the people behind Sea Containers, can give you an objective insight into the most cost-effective pieces you will need for your project to run smoothly and efficiently.

Thirdly, shipping container architecture allows for creativity and individual interior and exterior design solutions. While traditional spaces can be modified and updated to a lesser degree, you can implement almost any design solution you envision into your container home, provided you do not plan to remove load-bearing walls. Popular features include raising gardens and private oases on container roofs and balconies, and removing the sides to create glass walls to let plenty of sunshine in the house.

Precautions and Prerequisites

So far, container homes might seem to you like a viable and efficient option. However, before you move onto construction, you need to have a certain number of prerequisites in check. First of all, make sure you have ample manoeuvring space for the delivery, placement and modification of your containers. Bear in mind that a 10-metre container requires plenty of space.

Secondly, plan ahead for their pickup and delivery as not all shipping container factories will be able to deliver the product to you and you will have to hire a truck for the job. Also, make sure you thoroughly inspect containers prior to purchase and once more prior to pick up, and search for any irregularities such as dents, scratches, cracks and holes in order to avoid paying for repairs.

Next, research and adhere to the local laws and regulations before you start any form of construction. State laws vary from region to region and it is imperative to gather all of the necessary paperwork in time in order to avoid costly fines, delays and significant financial loss.

Additionally, keep in mind that containers are metallic objects that are not famous for their insulation properties, and while cold environments can easily turn a shipping container home into a freezer, hot and humid climates can elevate the temperature of the metal construction, rendering it unsafe for a living space. This fact makes properly and thoroughly insulating the house a must, to ensure healthy and safe living conditions, while avoiding the accumulation of unnecessary upkeep costs.

Finally, due to their thin construction, containers might not be suitable for windy environments, as the wind can significantly interfere with the container walls and elevate the noise levels to an unpleasant degree. You can battle this problem by introducing wind-resistant solutions, such as external insulation, planting high-rise vegetation and even building glass screens in order to stop the wind completely.

Shipping container architecture is one of many eco-friendly, practical and sustainable inventions of the modern era, and a leading contributor in the fight against waste accumulation and pollution, while posing as the best solution for housing amidst the global population crisis. With these insights into the advantages and fine intricacies surrounding this innovative trend, you can easily and safely construct your very own sustainable home and enjoy the numerous benefits it brings.

Image credit: Hessel

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