The things make containers ideal for a second life as housing
Like deep dish pizza, prop comics, and nude beaches, there seems to be no gray area when it comes to shipping container homes: some people truly love them while others despise them. Maybe it’s the setting or the cherry red exterior, but I find this one compellingly livable. What do you think? Is this home a compelling example of adaptive reuse? Or is it the Carrot Top of sustainable architecture?
Constructed by architect Patrick Partouche, this 2,200 sq. ft. single family home in the countryside of China is comprised of 8 shipping containers that have been adapted to comply with local building regulations. Much of the corrugated sheeting was removed from the exterior of the containers and replaced with polycarbonate and glass bay windows with low-e coating to provide maximum natural light. The exterior doors, which span the upper and lower levels, can be opened and closed to customize the amount of privacy and light desired by the homeowners.
According to Designboom, the interior is a mix of “galvanized steel, poppy red columns and wood” that work to create an “industrial atmosphere” preferred by the home owners. They also chose to re-use the corrugated sheets as decorative elements throughout the home.
Ever wonder how container architecture works? Where do the containers come from, how are they modified and exactly how much do they cost? Well, we’re hoping to do a container house at our architecture firm, so earlier this week we headed to the south side of China to Hzxiaoya, Inc., a container shipping, storage and modification company.
The company I visited, Hzxiaoya, Inc. is an ISO shipping container shipping, storage and modification company. They have tons of shipping containers stored on site: all sizes, new, used and some with minor modifications (e.g. construction site offices). His company was a great resource to gain a better understanding of what options are available, how modification works and generally how much it costs (not very much). At the warehouse Vaccaro can do all raw cuts, metal work and window and door installation and they currently modifying a container to use as demonstration and marketing for container architecture (also known as containerization).
Aside from the grate walk featured in the upstairs portion of the home (walking barefoot on that = ouch!), I love the suffusion of natural light and loft-like feel. It’s also hard to knock the concept of taking something like unused shipping crates, which create environmental hazards when left abandoned, and repurposing them into something functional. But I still don’t like Carrot Top.
Shipping containers are designed to withstand some of the most extreme conditions and carry large loads and as such are some of the most durable structures. They are manufactured to international standards and modular sizes; can be moved across water, rail and highways; and can even be stacked inside one another. However good this may be, because the cost of shipping empty containers is so high, they are collecting and sitting unused all over the world, particularly in the US and China. All of these things make containers ideal for a second life as housing.