DigiTruck Will Bring Schools to Africa

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Children in remote areas of Africa more often than not do not have access to schools, let alone ones that allow for learning digital literacy. The solution to this perhaps lies in the so-called DigiTruck, which is a solar-powered digital classroom, which is also mobile.

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The DigiTruck was built by placing a standard, 40-foot shipping container atop a trailer, and can operate completely off-the-grid. It is well insulated to keep out the heat, and has steel doors and bolted window shutters, which provide security. It is illuminated by LED lighting. The truck is also fitted with solar panels, which take care of all its power needs. Should the need arise, the truck can also be reconfigured and used as a mobile health center, a community training center, or even a cyber cafe.

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The DigiTruck is administered by the digital literacy non-profit organization Close the Gap, who partnered up with Arrow Electronics and Hoops of Hope, to make it a reality. A DigiTruck can fit up to 18 students at a time and is fully equipped with refurbished IT equipment, namely 20 laptops, an LED screen, a printer and two Internet routers.

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Local workers in Arusha, Tanzania, were contracted to build the DigiTruck, and it is currently located at the Tuleeni orphanage in the remote village of Rau in the Kilimanjaro Region of the country. The mobile classroom is currently a school for 80 orphans. For now it will stay at the orphanage, but it will be taken to a new location in the second part of 2016. The equipment it currently contains will be donated to the Tuleeni Orphanage, while the truck will be fitted with new IT equipment.

Plans to build more of these DigiTrucks for deployment all across rural Africa are already underway, and I hope they soon turn into reality.

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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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Container City / Ciudad de Containers

Por José Tomás Franco

La idea es potenciar su versatilidad y eficiencia para construir  en base a una unidad de container como módulo. Esta flexibilidad permite adaptarse como solución a diferentes programas y funciones, que incluso van más allá de un sólo edificio.

Sus unidades son optimizadas para responder de mejor manera a las condiciones climáticas, requerimientos de iluminación, calefacción, control de humedad, etc. Están pensadas para ser desplegadas y montadas en todas partes en el mundo, hasta en las condiciones más remotas.

De unidades a ciudades Pero la empresa se ha expandido a crear ciudades casi completas, en operaciones urbanas en las que construyen un gigante set para el entrenamiento militar estadounidense (Operaciones Militares en Terrenos Urbanos – MOUT). Al contrario del módulo inicial que ellos desarrollan, estas no son habitables y solo recrean una ciudad en medio del desierto que luego será desmontada.

Más allá de que este uso pueda ser cuestionable, lo interesante es que el gran esfuerzo de montar la ciudad podría tener un uso prolongado al ser reutilizado una vez que finalicen su función inicial; o replicar este modelo para dar solución a problemas de vivienda, de manera temporal o incluso permanente.

Medical Complex in Sudan

by Yuka Yoneda 

You know how much we love shipping container architecture here at Inhabitat, and we get especially excited about buildings that contribute to the greater good of an area or community. Well, we couldn’t have found a more shining example of that than this beautiful medical complex in Soba, Sudan. The breezy complex sits right near the Nile river around a courtyard of mango trees, and is constructed of discarded 90 ft x 20 ft containers taken right from the construction site of the adjacent Salam Centre for cardiac Surgery.
 eco design, green design, sustainable design, prefab housing, prefabricated housing, salam centre, sudan, tam architects, shipping container, container houses, shipping container architecture 

Designed by Italian firm, Tam Architecture, the idea for the complex was conceived when the architects noticed the leftover containers lying around the construction site and wanted to reuse them. Using them to provide the international staff of the cardiac center with a place to stay seemed like the perfect opportunity. The housing units are 20 sqm and consist of a bedroom, a bathroom and a small veranda on the court side. There is also a cafeteria which is made out of smaller 7 ft x 40 ft containers.

In addition to being fabricated out of shipping containers that were already at the site (no extra fuel costs or shipping emissions!), Tam took extra measures to make the complex energy-efficient. The containers are insulated with a layer system: 5 cm insulating panels on the inside and a second insulated roof and a bamboo brise soleil panel system on the outside, meaning that the sun’s rays never make contact with the containers. Solar panels supply hot water for the compound and an air conditioning system that utilizes photovoltaic panels and chilling machines has been tested for the complex.

Container Village for Haiti

Pop-Up Village for Haiti Made From 900 Shipping Containers

by Bridgette Meinholdvilaj vilaj, luck mervil, haiti, shipping container housing, earthquake disaster relief

Haitian Canadian musician Luck Mervil is leading the charge to help rebuild Haiti with houses made from repurposed shipping containers. Mervil is behind the Montreal organization Vilag Vilag, which wants to use 900 shipping containers to build an entirely new village west of Port-au-Prince fit for 5,000 people. The organization aims to build sustainable and long-term housing in Haiti — and eventually elsewhere — with the help of local Haitians.

vilaj vilaj, luck mervil, haiti, shipping container housing, earthquake disaster relief 

Mervil, who has put his own career aside to work on this important project, expects the entire community to cost around $25 million and has been ardently working to raise the funds. The new village will be built on a parcel of previously uninhabited land near Leogane, a coastal city west of Port-au-Prince. A prototype shipping container house was built in Canada in 10 days for between $8,000 and $10,000, and Mervil expects the costs to be much lower in Haiti.

The village will consist of a series of 900 shipping containers grouped together in a grid and separated by open space, parks, and playing fields. Both 40 and 20-foot containers will be used to construct durable, long-term and hurricane and earthquake resistant homes. Each home will offer roughly 320 sq feet of living space with running water and bathrooms. The village will also be self-sufficient, with space for companies to set up shop so that villagers can work and support themselves.