From chocolate to cell phones, shipping containers are used to transport goods around the world. Shipping containers carry 90% of the world’s traded goods. In the US, where 60% more goods are exported than imported, there is a disposal problem. Millions of containers are stacked up in port cities around the country because it is cheaper to keep the containers than to ship back empty units.
For decades, shipping containers have been used by less fortunate individuals as makeshift shelters. Whether struck by natural disasters or poverty, shipping containers have been a viable temporary housing method for many. However, architects and green engineers have reconsidered the shipping container in the last few years. Because they’re easily modified and can be stacked for style and comfort, they can be thought of as building blocks for residential spaces for all people. Modular housing is becoming an eco-chic alternative for vacation houses, condos, and both urban and suburban family homes.
Each shipping container is made for long travel in harsh environments, and so they are unaffected by wind, snow, heat and ice. These containers are also meant to withstand stacking and heavy loads, making them ideal for frames. Projects involving containers are less expensive than traditional building projects because the containers themselves are relatively inexpensive, around $2,000 for a used unit. The projects also require less labor and resources than traditional residential building projects.
The process of building a shipping container home begins offsite where holes for windows and doors are cut into the container for installation. The containers are sand-blasted offsite to remove paint and rid them of any contaminants. Once the container is brought onsite, it sits on a concrete foundation, just like traditional housing. Units are able to be stacked 25 high, although most projects involve less than 4 containers. Welding the units only takes a few hours, and a steel roof can be installed in an additional 2-3. An entire home is assembled in less than a day.
Because steel is an excellent conductor of heat, the units need to be well insulated. Once the insulation is covered with drywall, the walls are paint-ready. The inside looks very much like a traditional home. There are hundreds of cities around the world that are utilizing shipping containers and turning them into residential housing. From entire housing complexes in London, to single family vacation homes in Redondo Beach, shipping container homes are gaining in popularity. Here are a few of the most interesting shipping container residences from the world over.
1. Container City II in London
2. Keetwonwn Dorm in Amsterdam
3. Redondo Beach House