Shipping container architecture is a form of architecture using steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as structural element. It is also referred to as cargotecture, a portmanteau of cargo with architecture, or "arkitainer".
The use of containers as a building material has grown in popularity over the past several years due to their inherent strength, wide availability, and relatively low expense. Homes have also been built with containers because they are seen as more eco-friendly than traditional building materials such as brick and cement.
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Many structures based on shipping containers have already been constructed, and their uses, sizes, locations and appearances vary widely.
When futurist Stewart Brand needed a place to assemble all the material he needed to write How Buildings Learn, he converted a shipping container into office space, and wrote up the conversion process in the same book.
In 2006, Southern California Architect Peter DeMaria, designed the first two-story shipping container home in the U.S. as an approved structural system under the strict guidelines of the nationally recognized Uniform Building Code (UBC). This home was the Redondo Beach House and it inspired the creation of Logical Homes, a cargo container based pre-fabricated home company. In 2007, Logical Homes created their flagship project - the Aegean, for the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Several architects, such as Adam Kalkin have built original homes, using discarded shipping containers for their parts or using them in their original form, or doing a mix of both.
In 2000, the firm Urban Space Management completed the project called Container City I in the Trinity Buoy Wharf area of London. The firm has gone on to complete additional container-based building projects, with more underway. In 2006, the Dutch company Tempohousing finished in Amsterdam the biggest container village in the world: 1,000 student homes from modified shipping containers from China.
In 2002 standard ISO shipping containers began to be modified and used as stand-alone on-site wastewater treatment plants. The use of containers creates a cost-effective, modular, and customizable solution to on-site waste water treatment and eliminates the need for construction of a separate building to house the treatment system.
Brian McCarthy, an MBA student, saw many poor neighborhoods in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico during an MBA field trip in the 2000s. Since then he developed prototypes of shipping container housing for typical maquiladora workers in Mexico.
Application for the Live Event & Entertainment Industry: in 2010 German Architect and Production Designer, Stefan Beese, utilized six 40' long shipping containers to create a large viewing deck and a VIP lounge area for to substitute the typical grand stand scaffold structure at the Voodoo Music Experience, New Orleans. The containers also smartly do double duty as storage space for other festival components throughout the year. The two top containers are cantilevered nine feet on each side creating two balconies that are prime viewing locations. There are also two bars located on the balconies. Each container was perforated with cutouts spelling the word "VOODOO," which not only brands the structure but creates different vantage points and service area openings. And since the openings themselves act as signage for the event, no additional materials or energy were needed to create banners or posters.
In the United Kingdom, walls of containers filled with sand have been used as giant sandbags to protect against the risk of flying debris from exploding ceramic insulators in electricity substations.
In the October 2013, two barges owned by Google with superstructures made out of shipping containers received media attention speculating about their purpose.
Empty shipping containers are commonly used as market stalls and warehouses in the countries of the former USSR.
The biggest shopping mall or organized market in Europe is made up of alleys formed by stacked containers, on 69 hectares (170 acres) of land, between the airport and the central part of Odessa, Ukraine. Informally named "Tolchok" and officially known as the Seventh-Kilometer Market it has 16,000 vendors and employs 1,200 security guards and maintenance workers.
In Central Asia, the Dordoy Bazaar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, almost entirely composed of double-stacked containers, is of comparable size. It is popular with travelers coming from Kazakhstan and Russia to take advantage of the cheap prices and plethora of knock-off designers.
In 2011, the Cashel Mall in Christchurch, New Zealand reopened in a series of shipping containers months after it had been destroyed in the earthquake that devastated the city's central business district. Starbucks Coffee has also built a store using shipping containers.
Shipping containers have also been used as:
- Affordable housing
- Press boxes
- Emergency hurricane shelters for thoroughbred horses
- Concession stands
- Fire training facility
- Military training facility
- Emergency shelters
- School buildings
- Apartment and office buildings
- Artists' studios
- Moveable exhibition spaces on rails
- Telco hubs
- Bank vaults
- Medical clinics
- Radar stations
- Shopping malls
- Sleeping rooms
- Recording studios
- Abstract art
- Transportable factories
- Modular data centers (e.g. Sun Modular Datacenter, Portable Modular Data Center)
- Experimental labs
- Combatant temporary containment (ventilated)
- Starbucks stores (e.g. 6350 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 USA)
- Intermodal sealed storage on ships, trucks, and trains
- House foundations on unstable seismic zones
- Elevator/stairwell shafts
- Block roads and keep protesters away, as photo journalized during the Pakistan Long March
- Construction trailers
- Mine site accommodations
- Exploration camp
- Aviation maintenance facilities for the United States Marine Corps when loaded onto the SS Wright (T-AVB-3) or the SS Curtiss (T-AVB-4)
- RV campers
- Food trucks
- Hydroponics farms
- Battery storage units
For housing and other architecture
Containers are in many ways an ideal building material because they are strong, durable, stackable, cuttable, movable, modular, plentiful and relatively cheap. Architects as well as laypeople have used them to build many types of buildings such as homes, offices, apartments, schools, dormitories, artists' studios and emergency shelters; they have also been used as swimming pools. They are also used to provide temporary secure spaces on construction sites and other venues on an "as is" basis instead of building shelters.
Phillip C. Clark filed for a United States patent on November 23, 1987 described as "Method for converting one or more steel shipping containers into a habitable building at a building site and the product thereof". This patent was granted August 8, 1989 as patent 4854094. The patent documentation shows what are possibly the earliest recorded plans for constructing shipping container housing and shelters by laying out some very basic architectural concepts. Regardless, the patent may not have represented novel invention at its time of filing. Paul Sawyers previously described extensive shipping container buildings used on the set of the 1985 film Space Rage Breakout on Prison Planet.
Other examples of earlier container architecture concepts also exist such as a 1977 report entitled 'Shipping Containers as Structural Systems' investigating the feasibility of using twenty foot shipping containers as structural elements by the US military.
During the 1991 Gulf War, containers saw considerable nonstandard uses not only as makeshift shelters but also for the transportation of Iraqi prisoners of war. Holes were cut in the containers to allow for ventilation. Containers continue to be used for military shelters, often additionally fortified by adding sandbags to the side walls to protect against weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades ("RPGs").
The abundance and relative cheapness of these containers during the last decade comes from the deficit in manufactured goods coming from North America in the last two decades. These manufactured goods come to North America from Asia and, to a lesser extent, Europe, in containers that often have to be shipped back empty, or "deadhead", at considerable expense. It is often cheaper to buy new containers in Asia than to ship old ones back. Therefore, new applications are sought for the used containers that have reached their North American destination.
Source of the article : Wikipedia