Shipping containers are looking more and more viable for the small house and small living movement. Yearly, millions of shipping containers arrive in U.S. ports, but only a portion of these containers ever leave our consumptive shores. For many companies, the cost of shipping empty containers back across seas for reuse exceeds that of purchasing new ones. Add to that our negative balance of trade, and empty containers start piling up. Although the problem remains formidable, out of the box thinkers are coming up with great ways to make use of the hundreds of thousands of containers that are literally stacking up around the world. As it turns out, with a little spiffing-up, shipping containers are ideal building blocks for prefab homes, and their reuse can provide answers to environmental and social problems alike.
In London, Container City™ has constructed a jigsaw-like apartment complex of converted shipping containers. Check out the video below for the full scoop on these chic, recycled homes.
Container City™ now has more than 20 projects in the works.
Shipping containers have also been converted into student dorms. In Amsterdam, 1000 students enjoy dormitory units complete with private bathrooms, kitchens, balconies, and high-speed internet access. Dubbed “Keetwonen,” the dormitory in Amsterdam stands as the largest shipping container “community” to date.
And in Mexico, PFNC Global Communities (“Por Fin Nuestra Casa” – translated, “finally, a home of our own”) converts surplus shipping containers into affordable housing for low-income families in Juárez and Tijuana. The social mission, as PFNC defines it, is to “to raise the standard of living for families who currently reside in dangerous or substandard conditions.” PFNC purchases surplus containers from the United States and converts them to livable living units with low-cost, recycled materials. Check out PFNC’s website for more information on the projects underway and on PFNC’s recognition in the world of business social responsibility.
And finally, for all of you interested in constructing your own shipping container home, these folks have put together a Shipping Container Housing Guide to satisfy all your shipping-container-related questions. Check out WebUrbanist’s guide: Buying, Designing and Building Cargo Container Homes as well.
Check out these Twelve Amazing Shipping Container Houses dug up by Brian Clark Howard for more inspiration. And see this post on Shipping container villages in Amsterdam at This Tiny House for news about shipping container kindergartens and performing arts centers, plus more on Keetwonen. And don’t miss FabPrefab’s ContainerBay for a “complete” compendium of containers (they did miss the EcoPods though.)