Moderm Shipping Container Home Built in Costa Rica

By Christine Walsh

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Eight recycled shipping containers were used to construct the so-called Casa Incubo in Costa Rica. This modern home is sustainable from the ground up, right down to being build around an existing cedar tree growing on the building site, which the builders were loathe to cut down. The home was designed by architect Maria José Trejos.

Casa Incubo is a sprawling 2-story building and it was constructed from eight 40’ high cube containers. According to the designer, using shipping containers as the main building blocks allowed them to minimize costs and shorten the total construction time by 20%. The owner is a photographer and wishes to use his home as an office and studio too, so the entire structure was designed with this in mind.

The home consists of a spacious, well-lit, central area, which is formed by the shipping containers and measures a generous 95 square meters. This space can serve as the living room, or a photographer’s studio. The shipping containers were left in pretty much their original state, and stacked one on top of another to form the home’s bedrooms, kitchen and bathrooms. The central living space also allows for great cross ventilation, while the entire west facing side is covered in windows, letting in plenty of natural daylight and contributing much to energy savings.

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Apart from the spacious living area, the first floor also houses a photo gallery, a dining room, and kitchen. The cedar tree was incorporated into the house, but several branches still had to be cut off to make it fit, and the wood from these was used to create the breakfast bar in the kitchen, as well as the table legs.

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The second floor houses the bedrooms and the photographer’s studio, while one of the containers was also placed so as to create a terrace and a porch below. An outdoor pathway leads to the stairs and the rooftop garden located on the third floor, which also doubles as a sun deck.

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Israel Gets a Shipping Container Student Village

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A brand new student village recently opened its doors in the town of Sderot in Israel. What sets it apart from other such villages is the fact that it was built entirely out of used shipping containers. All the work was also done by the students themselves, many with no prior construction experience, under the watchful eye of Ayalim, Israel’s largest youth organization.

Construction started in June 2014 and by early December 2014, the units were ready for habitation. The village was built using 36 recycled shipping containers, which yielded 150 apartment units. The construction was done by 1000 students and pre-army volunteers, who picked up valuable construction skills as they worked. About 300 of these will stay in the village and attend the nearby Sapir Academic College. The units are made available to them for a subsidized rent, so long as they perform 500 hours of community service in Sderot annually.

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The shipping container village is comprised of three separate structures, each rising three stories. The shipping containers used to build them were pretty much left in their original state, at least from the outside, and stacked one atop another much like they would be on a ship while still transporting goods.

On the inside, little suggests the units are made out of shipping containers. The walls were covered in drywall and painted white to give the sense of spaciousness. The units were also fitted with large windows that let in plenty of natural daylight and offer good ventilation. The apartments are comfortably furnished, and contain a fully functional kitchen, living area, bedroom and bathroom.

The main aim of this project was to get young people to stay in the village even after they finish their studies. Apparently the biggest obstacle for people settling and studying in this region of the country is lack of affordable housing, which is what the Ayalim is trying to remedy through this project. It is certainly nice to see large scale cargotecture projects like this start to crop up all over the world and hopefully there will be many more.

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Shipping Container School Built in Africa

Shipping Container School Built in Africa

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Due to being inexpensive and readily available, shipping containers are often used for building affordable housing for the less fortunate. This was recently proven by the Johannesburg, South Africa firm Architecture for a change (A4AC) who used shipping containers to construct a school and community center Malawi. The structure is also capable of operating independent of the grid, since it is equipped with a rainwater harvesting system and a solar power array.

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The Legson Kayira Community Center and Primary School, as the complex is called, measures 4,090 square feet (380 square meters). The designers kept the structure very simple. It is made up of two classrooms and a large central courtyard, along with some bleachers. The school primarily educates children, though the building also houses an adult training center.

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Since insulation is one of the main concerns when using shipping containers as building blocks, the architects needed to find a solution, which would work in the hot climate of South Africa. They opted for a covered canopy-type design, which features a larger covered area that provides shade, as well as open, well-lit and well-ventilated spaces.

The shipping containers used were per-fabricated off-site at A4AC’s workshop in South Africa, and then transported to Malawi. The shipping containers used are supported by a lightweight steel supporting frame and roof. Some of the sides of the containers were also removed and replaced by louvered walls, which further aids in the natural ventilation.

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Also, the classroom doors can be opened on a hinge, which again aids ventilation, as well as make sit possible to turn an indoor space into a semi-outdoor space if needed. To block out the sun and provide shade, designers used netting. Water is recycled via channels in the sloping roof and kept in water storage tanks. The school is also fitted with a rooftop mounted solar power array, which harvests enough power to provide indoor lighting, and serve all the other power needs of the school.

The school took only about eight weeks to complete. Also, it was designed in such a way that additional shipping containers can be added to expand it, should the need arise. This is yet another great thing about using shipping containers as building blocks.

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