Of all the options for habitats, could you ever imagine living in a shipping container? While that may seem like an unusual option, individuals across the globe are choosing it as a housing and space alternative. NPR, The Huffington Post, and National Geographic have all spotlighted this recent trend in architecture, which may revolutionize our lifestyles.
Christened “cargotecture”, architects and respective companies have turned to the unused and oft discarded containers to create homes, dormitories, hotels, shops, office spaces, restaurants, and even museums. The containers, which are inexpensive, durable, sustainable, and easy to transport are ideal for construction and re-purposing. According to SG Blocks, a company based in New York that specializes in shipping containers, it takes only one-twentieth of the energy to fit a container for housing (versus reprocessing that amount in steel), and they also have a much longer shelf life.
Once no longer needed for their shipping abilities, the containers can be easily cleaned and renovated with “flooring, insulation, air conditioning, electricity, plumbing, and other modern conveniences”. “It’s better than a lot of apartments,” state Nick Radecki, who lives with his family in a container, to NPR. Students in Amsterdam also appreciate the comfort and low cost of the alternative housing space.
Kirk Lance, who purchased a container to build Arpisa Mexican Cuisine, also says to NPR, “This thing, it’s had a life,” adding, “It was born somewhere, and it’s traveled the world and hauled millions of pounds of who-knows-what. And it ends up as a little restaurant in a street corner in Portland, Ore.”
While there have been some hurdles identified in using the containers architecturally, many attest to their usability as material for building. Reusing them gives them new purpose, and prevents the from sitting, stacked one on top of another, for years.
The rise of this movement within architecture sheds light on how our habits and our use of space can be not only more economical, but also sustainable. Recycling these containers saves us money, time, and energy, and we can reap great benefits from this new building medium.