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Hiro Protagonist and Vitaly Chernobyl, roommates, are chilling out in their home, a spacious 20-by-30 in a U-Stor-It in Inglewood, California. It is whispered that in the old days, when the U-Stor-It was actually used for its intended purpose (namely, providing cheap extra storage space to Californians with too many material goods), certain entrepreneurs came to the front office, rented out 10-by-10s using fake IDs, filled them up with steel drums full of toxic chemical waste, and then abandoned them, leaving the problem for the U-Stor-It Corporation to handle.
I’m deliberately picking small and utilitarian images, because many other examples seem over-architected and more than a little twee, to me; if you want to go all House and Garden, why start with a shipping container in the first place? Like that guy who lives year-round in a tent in Pownal, Maine: If he set up his tent in a shipping container, he wouldn’t have to get up every hour to brush off the snow!
Q- Aren’t shipping containers just hot ovens [We can see this guy is not from Maine] when they are used for homes or offices? I’m not telling anyone they shouldn’t build with shipping containers, just that they should truly assess their reasons for doing it before they proceed. That is, the author, who knows how to build both conventionally and with shipping containers, paid $15K more to do it the container way, instead of buildng a conventional cabin.
You also have to consider that a shipping container shell still needs to be framed inside for attaching wallboard or paneling. So that’s a quick round-up on the seductions advantages and harsh realities disadvantages of shipping container homes. Concluding, I’d like to dolly back from the structural aspects of shipping container homes, and speculate a little on the macro-economic effects.
Designing an efficient and liveable cabin in multiples of 8, 20, and 40 foot lengths is a huge limitation.
Well, what happens when people, en masse, decide that dream kitchen isn’t worth the extra two feet? 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.
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Macroeconomic policy, Real estate on February 8, 2015 by Lambert Strether. I have some friends in central North Carolina who started their homestead together about a year and a half ago.
A different friend of mine bought a used trailer and lived in it very comfortably for ~$9k, I think, though I’ve heard the average cost can be $15k-$20k or more for fully outfitted, nice quarters.
I estimated my two friends in North Carolina paid ~$20k for the move-in-ready living quarters and storage, which seemed like a sweet deal for a couple itching to start permaculturing-up their homestead. That said, be on the lookout for the DOE Solar Decathlon 2015: selected colleges competing on a broad range of sustainability, constructability, innovation, and of course, useability. A experienced structural engineer will be more useful, at least here architects don’t know much about engineering. This comes up frequently as a topic within the community resilience group I’m part of. But when the details of actual implementation in the real world get going, it completely falls apart. When the long slow crash gets to just the right spot, at least we’ll be good to go on the process.
Meanwhile, we’re all about improving what shelter we already have, getting food growing, adding as many non-consumptive systems as possible. Many towns in the NYC metro area, along with mandating 5 or 7 acre minimum lots, do not permit manufactured housing at all.
Basically one has to go to rural areas, and in addition possibly invoke a subterfuge such as calling it an agricultural building (under Freedom to Farm laws), or else putting it on a wheeled chassis (so that it is not permanent construction), to build a container house without massive state intervention and intrusion. Despite the risk, this usually ends up being cheaper than going the permit-in-advance route, mainly because unless something was done grossly wrong, the municipality is mainly interested in doing a pro forma inspection and collecting the cash. Those pretty shipping container houses in the pictures are expensive architecture using containers as cool industrial design elements.
I love the picture of a $2,000 container on a $2,000,000 lakefront block, why would somebody bother? I agree with your thought that a shipping container home was akin to a build-your-own trailer home. I could definitely see a future in a modular, pre-fabricated home – and using the shipping container specs for the exterior of each module could have advantages if the idea was to build them in low-cost areas and then transport them via cargo vessel. An electric mobile home with collapsable solar panels and a 100 mile straight-line travel range (plus a towable gas-powered generator for range extension) would seem more practical. Panelfab was a Florida corporation situated in North Miami, Florida that manufactured building components designed to be erected and connected in double quick time.
The uniform sizes and boxy dimensions of shipping containers make them ideal for use in designing innovative, low cost buildings for just about any use. In the unplanned, unregulated communities that are part of the incredible expansion of urban Kabul, used Chinese shipping containers are one of the building modes of choice. This is really an issue concerning the affordability of decent housing for the teeming multitudes. I have a question, I wonder and am.concerned about left over pollution in these containers.
CHU or containerized housing units were used as the bunks for troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Architecture schools have been exploring CHU since at least the 1990s as efficient mobile office and housing solutions.
I know from personal experience on job sites that the toxic cans issue is never even considered. Studio H:T's Shipping Container House is, unsurprisingly, a house made partially from shipping containers - and one that operates entirely off-grid.
Studio H:T's Shipping Container House is, unsurprisingly, a house made from shipping containers - at least partially. But two containers flank this central living space on either side, and these make up the Shipping Container House's bedrooms and home office spaces - as well as the kitchen judging by the interior photography. If the Shipping Container House does indeed constitute an entirely off-grid abode then this is the design's main achievement - incorporating passive (i.e. Power is provided by a pellet stove (so though the house may be off-grid, it isn't entirely self-sufficient) and on-site photovoltaic solar power. Previously on Gizmag, and potentially of interest to the container-inclined, the Port-a-bach shipping container mobile home, APHIDoIDEA's 65-container education center plan, and Tsai Design's shipping container classroom. If you have specific questions about building materials or designs please send me an email through this contact form here. Case container: caratteristiche e confronti con le case in legnoLe case container sono poco conosciute in Italia. Queste sperimentazioni edilizie, sono generalmente opera di giovani bioarchitetti, che rinunciano alle costruzioni tradizionali per dar sfogo alla loro fantasia; queste, tuttavia, non riescono a rappresentare vere forme alternative di abitazione, ma senz'altro costituiscono iniziative stimolanti verso un nuovi modelli economici e sostenibili.

Esse inoltre vengono poco accettate dal Belpaese, troppo bene abituato alle costruzioni in mattone o in cemento armato. Sembra, quindi, improbabile che la strada delle costruzioni container possa trovare la giusta via in Italia, o comunque, essi rimarranno limitati a situazioni del tutto eccezionali. Le caratteristiche strutturali dei container, sebbene siano adattabili e modulabili a seconda dell'esigenza del committente, presentano delle imperfezioni irrimediabili.
In queste strutture, infatti, non vi è la presenza di alcun metodo di coibentazione, dunque si riscontra una notevole dispersione di calore che non permette di creare all'interno dell'abitazione le condizioni climatiche adeguate per il viver quotidiano. I costi, inoltre, a differenza delle case prefabbricate in legno, non sono sempre stabili, ma si aggirino intorno ai 50-100 dollari al metro quadro.
Se lo scopo di costruire un'abitazione, diventa una missione per il rispetto ambientale, le case prefabbricate in legno, risultano essere ancora le preferite. Le case prefabbricate IKEA: confezionate, arredate e pronte per abitarciDomande frequenti e risposte brevi sulle case prefabbricate in legnoGazebo, pergole, casette in legno e molto altro.
Based in Victoria, Australia, Fulton + Salomon specialize in shipping container based architecture, offering various models from a small one bedroom 40 ft container home up to a 32 container luxury house. Our approach to container housing design is to use them where they are economical and to combine them with conventional construction. Can you tell us about container home construction, in terms of process, choice of materials and customization? Our process in most instances is to have all steel modification carried off site at steel fabricator’s factories because most DIY builders are not trained in welding. Our greatest challenge was to build a complete 1 bedroom house within 1 X 40 foot container, to prove to the world that such a house whether it be a single or 32 container house, it would be comfortable and attractive, secure against hurricanes and wild fires, and above all, be very economical to build. If I were to live in an extremely hot or cold climate, would a container home be the right choice for me? There is no special maintenance needed for a container based building, even if they are buried underground! In your experience, is there any difference living in a container home compared to a conventional house? Because they are air sealed except for intentional openings, you don’t get drafts in a container based building. What advice would you give to a potential homeowner interested in a shipping container home? In your opinion, is the affordability of prefabricated houses a bit exaggerated or do you think prefab is the solution to low cost housing? Prefabricated building except where containers are used is more expensive than conventional construction. From small vacation cabins to student housing, offices and even movable cafes – container-based architecture is sprouting up across the globe. I think it’s fantastic, we are involved in the design of social housing to luxury houses, backpacker accommodation, student and tourist accommodation, offices, African orphanages, hospitals and schools, workers villages, retirement villages, relocatable cafes and canal house boats. Container based buildings are here to stay because comfortable attractive functional buildings can be created quickly and very economically providing safe environments in any “extreme” location. Great post, looks like the team over at Fulton + Salomon continue to go from strength to strength. Best thing about a shipping container house is that you can ship yourself to exotic locations! I like the security aspect - you could make it very hard to break into, if you minimize windows sizes. Yep, very creative but I imagine it'd be cheaper and easier to go with one of these prefab buildings with slider hangar doors, considering you need lots of free-span space. Kent, you nailed it, it's less expensive to go with either a simple prefabricated structure, put up a pole barn or simply an over sized shed. Most that I've seen had extensive corrision or damage and required patching to stop water leaks. We doesn't provide exterior house paint color ideas products or service, please contact them directly and verify their companies info carefully. Rather than putting Hiro Protagonist [nudge] in an steel box at the decaying end of the supply chain, why not move the housing question back up the chain closer to the beginning?[1] Why not, in other words, a shipping container?
Nevertheless, you know it was architected, because the first thought was to put in plate glass windows.
A shipping container cabin can be comfortable, secure, and aesthetically pleasing, but it will cost you considerably more than a conventionally built cabin. This essentially turns the shipping container into very expensive siding if you don’t need its security. If you, readers, are thinking about building a shipping container home, or have built one, and want to share your experiences, or you decided not to, and want to share your reasoning, we’d love to hear from you in comments. Both of these comments are true if you don’t mind living in a shack more appropriate for a third world refugee camp [rather like Hiro Protagonist!]. If housing and construction are key drivers of the economy, what happens to jobs and growth when you can snap a house together out of interchangeable parts in standard dimensions? Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house.
They got a twenty-ish foot trailer for living in, which seemed quite comfortable, and then they used a cargo container to store their tools safe from the rain and animals.
So one gains a bit of leverage, as compared to needing (and often waiting for) affirmative permission at every step along the way.
The zeitgeist of the NYC suburbs requires maintaining the illusion of middle class, conformist respectability at all costs. I already spend enough time at work in conex boxes with plywood siding and benches made from 2x4s to want to live in a truly cheap container structure. As an engineer it seems fairly obvious (to me) that something designed for a purpose will be more efficient and cost effective than something repurposed. Attaching or stacking containers provides for almost limitless possibilities in terms of office buildings, emergency medical clinics, detached home offices and studio spaces and thousands of other applications.
The taller central section (which is clearly wedge-shaped in plan view) is not a container. Il confronto con le costruzioni prefabbricate in legno permette di mettere in risalto le caratteristiche sfavorevoli dei container. Nel mondo anglosassone, ad esempio, le costruzioni in container hanno dato vita a strutture di rilievo compositivo, allontanando, quindi, l'immagine stereotipata degli edifici freddi, esteticamente poco gradevoli e lontani dal trasmettere il tepore di una casa. Entrambe sono forme di edilizia alternativa, ma le prime sono poco adattabili, ad esempio, nelle zone del nord Italia, caratterizzate da un clima che raggiunge alte temperature in estate e bassissime durante gli inverni, come del resto, anche nelle zone interne del centro sud.
Inoltre, al momento, nessun regolamento edilizio, locale o nazionale, sancisce le norme per la costruzione di abitazioni container, in quanto esse non risulterebbero compatibili con i regolamenti vigenti, imposti dalle singole amministrazioni e dalla Soprintendenza a beni ambientali e paesistici, come quelli antisismici o energetici, per intendersi, che limitano fortemente la costruzione di edifici considerati incompatibili con il contesto territoriale, imponendo gran parte delle scelte compositive, volumetriche e formali.
Dunque, le prestazioni energetiche di questi edifici non possono reggere il paragone con quelle delle, già alternative, costruzioni prefabbricate in legno.

Basta, infatti, fare un giro sul web per notare come questi edifici hanno un made in che fa il giro del mondo toccando continenti distanti come quello cinese e americano. Abitazione ecologiche e basso consumo, tempistica veloce e costi certi, rispetto delle normative e dei regolamenti, costituiscono tutte le motivazioni per cui una casa prefabbricata in legno possa essere la vincitrice di questo scontro combattuto con le case container. We spoke to Geoffrey Fulton, Founder of Fulton+Salomon, and discovered an architect who thinks outside the square but inside the box! Their use has been proven at the Australian Antarctic base where they are used for accommodation. Container based houses can be built very quickly and in difficult locations, and can be relocated easily.
Although one would think that they are very simple to build with, there are many traps to fall into and extra building cots if you haven’t had previous experience. There is a benefit in difficult locations where on-site labour is not available or very expensive, and where weather conditions are extreme. Imagine the situation if many of the homes in Haiti had been built from shipping containers.
A stack of old containers, some trusses, cement and a plasma cutter, welder would do wonders on a small budget. The connex containers are not always completly made of steel, nor are they disposed of while still in the best of condition.
You must also factor in the cost of shipping as well as cost to have a crane brought in to lift or stack these containers in place. And I’m the kind of person who finds comfort in having mentally handled the worst case scenario, and it seems to me that if, for whatever reason, I lost my home, or had to leave the country and start over, that I could scrape together enough for shelter and start over. Of course, if I wanted to live in the container, as opposed to living in a tent in the container, I’d need to think about insulation.
The reality is, that the new Ceramic spray insulation is most effective when applied to metal. It’s not that different than wanting to build a log cabin – my true dream cabin, by the way. That’s why any one container can be stacked on any other, any crane can handle any container, and so on and so forth. I’ve seen shipping container “cabins” with no insulation, the wrong insulation, raw plywood flooring, no wallboard or paneling, no roof, no foundation, and no utilities.
The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. How energy efficient is such structure, a thin layer of sprayed insulation in the corrugated steel. The building code in our state runs hundreds of pages, and that’s without the National Electrical Code which is incorporated by reference.
I’ve never really understood the fad for using shipping containers, unless you have one lying around and need some extra storage. I would love feed back about potential ability to clean the containers and the risk of said spills. It also appears some form of exterior cladding has been applied to the containers themselves in an additional effort to mitigate solar heating.
Quest'ultime, infatti, dotate di una buona coibentazione termica consentono di abbassare il costo della bolletta energetica e garantiscono un maggiore rispetto delle condizioni ambientali. We are told that there are enough container available that could be put end to end around the world and 2 levels high. We have a residential project starting at Kinglake in Australia, where many people and 100s of homes were lost due to summer wild fires.
I can’t understand why containers aren’t being shipped in to allow residents to be living in some comfort and dignity rather than still be living under sheets of plastic.
This is one of those ideals that sounds great but unless everything is free or bartered isn't. Most of them are accessed via a communal loading dock that leads to a maze of wide corrugated-steel hallways and freight elevators. In fact, if you build a home, office, emergency shelter or storage unitusing Ceramic Insulation paint (spray) the structure will probably be more energy efficient than a conventional home.
Log cabins also cost more per square foot than conventional construction, but somehow they seem like a better aesthetic deal to me.
The flexibility of frame construction to scale to virtually any size is a substantial benefit compared to container construction. Therefore, new applications are sought for the used containers that have reached their North American destination.
Like the IRS code, the full scope and interpretation of the building code cannot be mastered by any one person.
The WFH House in China, designed by Copenhagen-based studio, Arcgency  is made of three stacked shipping containers. No, this specially-constructed space houses the living and dining areas, with some storage space above. Square meter for square meter, shipping container accommodation is much cheaper than any other type of construction in the industrial world. The paints used throughout our projects are re-manufactured from used vehicle sump oil ending up remarkably in a water soluble paint! These are slum housing, 5-by-10s and 10-by-10s where Yanoama tribespersons cook beans and parboil fistfuls of coca leaves over heaps of burning lottery tickets.. When things go all t—s up, then sheer volume of survival type projects, which mainly ignore local codes and dare the authorities to intervene, will prevail.
We line our modules with OSB sheets rather than bring in a wet trade using plasterboard sheeting. We ensure optimum insulation and cross ventilation so that we do not require air conditioning. Sure, two-by-fours are a standard size, and electrical sockets are standard, and Pemex plumbing is standard, but the dimensions of the housing structure itself are not standard. The colourful rugs create a comfy feeling and somehow, they remind us of the pure and minimalistic (also very stylish) Scandinavian design. When we insulate on the outside faces of the containers we further outer line with either fibre cement sheets or Custom Orb corrugated Colorbond sheets. The main floor is envisioned as one singular space that accommodates the kitchen, dining area and the living room.

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