By Sun Kim
Posting in Architecture
Seattle-based architect Matthew Coates and British aircraft structural engineer James Green offer a new spin on shipping container architecture.
If shipping container architecture is really cheap and green, why aren't more people choosing to build and live in them? Seattle-based architect Matthew Coates and British aircraft structural engineer James Green touch on why shipping container houses, while intriguing, are not yet popular:
"Container houses, where the dwelling is essentially the interior of the box, have been around for quite a while. There are two basic reasons why those types of shipping container houses haven't seen the success some have envisioned firstly, they were designed to ship cargo not to be lived in. They are uncomfortable, even claustrophobic spaces. Secondly, they are costly to modify and eventually the cost-benefit ratio falls apart. It's just too expensive to retrofit a container to be a nice space."
The designers collaborated on a solution to make shipping container homes more appealing, economically and aesthetically, by first returning the containers to their original function. Their Eco-Pak homes use the shipping containers to transport the structural framing pieces of their prefabricated houses. Once on site, the containers become part of the foundation, making the structures suitable for sites where concrete foundations cannot be used. The rest of the home's frame is easily assembled around the building block of the container.
The Eco-Pak design combines the advantages of prefabrication (i.e. speed, economy, and better quality control) with those of shipping container construction. Based on Green's original idea of building a shipping container home with a custom steel shell, the design principles behind the "Eco Modular" container house include
- an optimized structure
- use of recycled materials
- reduced packaging materials
- low cost and secure transportation
Because the Eco-Pak doesn't require a typical foundation, can be assembled quickly, and can be shipped in large quantities, the design obviously has potential for disaster and emergency housing applications. Coates and Green are also adapting their ideas for the affordable housing market, remote or off the grid housing, and the luxury market. The designers hope to offer Eco-Pak kits as a set of structural parts or a turnkey package that provides all the exterior components.
Green was granted a patent for the Eco-Pak design this spring, and a fully functioning prototype in Seattle, Washington is scheduled for completion in early 2013.
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Jul 16, 2012
Last I was in Co. Galway, a couple of my favorite pubs had them for separate smoking areas - worked great..oddly enough, there was no one in the pub proper - all of my freinds were in the container rooms - complete with Liverpool football on the tele.
We built a home out of a 20 foot shipping container for a show in Georgia. It would sleep four, a kitchen, shower and living room/dining room. It had solar PV and thermal and was totally self sufficient. It was a model built soon after the last earth quake in Haiti to show that these types of homes can be built not only for emergencies but for daily use at a very low cost. There are more than 35 MILLION such containers which are almost new lying near a port in the USA. It will make sense to assemble such homes for emergencies instead of using conventional mobile homes with Formaldehyde. One of my friend built a home in Arizona similar to the very first photo seen in this attachment.http://designcrave.com/2009-06-22/10-brilliant-boxy-and-sustainable-shipping-container-homes/. This was not only large, quiet, bug fire proof, but was very elegant.
There are tons of shipping containers that are nearing retirement age (seen better days) that could be used as part of a home... I can see a lot of uses for these all over the world. I would love to see some designs for some of these homes on stilts for waterfront areas. Perhaps some ways to coat the container to make them rust and corrosion proof for costal conditions (spray foam insulation perhaps).
There are already modular house construction designs where the materials shipping container is used in the construction of the house - but unlike the standard shipping container discussed herein, this other housing shipping container concept doesn't limit the house design because of it's manufactured dimensions. Instead the walls of the container are removable at site and can be incorporated in the house design in such a way that it doesn't limit shape or most dimensions of the house. Changing standard shipping container designs to allow wall relocation would rapidly solve the problem container build up around high import ports.
Vehicles, from trailers up through very large ships, are designed to to transport standardized shipping containers. Equipment to load & unload those vehicles are also designed to handle containers of standard sizes. The Eco Pak "...can be shipped in large quantities...has potential for disaster and emergency housing applications." Coates and Green have other designs for ordinary situations where time isn't critical