Student Housing Made From Shipping Containers
By Christine Walsh
Architect Christian Salvati of Marengo Structures built the house on Vernon St. in New Haven, Connecticut out of six recycled shipping containers. The house was co-designed by architect Edsel Ramirez, and they used 45-foot containers, into which holes for doors and windows, as well as some of the interior walls to make rooms, were cut out prior to transporting them to the building site.
The entire construction process on site took less then four hours. The builders transported the containers to the site on flatbed trucks, then positioned them into place using a crane. Prior to the beginning of the construction process, they laid a concrete foundation, which is about 45 times stronger than foundation used in the construction of regular houses.
The house cost $360,000 to build, though Salvati is optimistic that the cost will decrease substantially as he builds more shipping container homes once the economy of scale becomes applicable. Salvati purchased the lot where the house stands for $22,500 from Hill Development Corporation. The house has two separate apartments. The downstairs one is rented out to students, while Salvati uses the upstairs apartment when he visits New Haven.
The shipping containers they used are longer than standard containers, and they first painted the walls white on the inside and grey on the outside. The front of the house was fitted with a wooden façade that matches the other houses in the neighborhood, though the grey exterior sidewalls are still clearly visible. Salvati left the original doors of the container in place, and these now swing out in the rear of the house to create the sides of the back porch. From the inside the house looks no different than a regular house.
The interior of the home has sheetrock walls and ceilings, while the floors are made of poured and polished concrete. The walls are insulated with six inches of closed-cell soy-based sprayed cellulose. The house is heated by baseboard hot water heaters, while the house is also fitted with radiant floors. For cooling, air conditioners, ventilators and ceiling fans were installed.
Salvati is also currently planning a larger shipping container housing project in the New Haven area, which will be built using 26 shipping containers. This house will also be flood proof, as it will be elevated by the use of 9-foot concrete pilings. The six-apartment housing project, to be located on the flood plains area, was recently unanimously approved by the New Haven City Planning Commission.