Shipping Container Apartments Coming to Downtown Phoenix

By Christine Walsh

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The architecture firm StarkJames LLC has designed an apartment complex made from recycled shipping containers, which is currently being built in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The primary reason behind this project was providing affordable and sustainable housing near the city’s busy downtown area.

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The complex is called Containers on Grand and is located at 12th Avenue and Grand Avenue, in Phoenix. A total of 16 decommissioned shipping containers will be used to build eight apartment units. Each of the apartments will be made of 2 recycled shipping containers, yielding 740 square feet per apartment.

The architects will keep the floor plan open and modern, while at the same time celebrating the fact that shipping containers were used to build these homes. The apartments will all be one-bedroom units. A kitchen island will be located in the middle of each apartment, with a large living area on one side of it and the bedroom and bathroom on the other. To achieve adequate space, one of the longer sides of each container will be cut away and two containers will then be welded together to form a single apartment.

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The living area will open out into the central courtyard in the center of the complex via double French windows. These large windows will also allow plenty of natural daylight to enter the home, making it appear more spacious and open. The apartments will also offer plenty of storage along one side of the central corridor.

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According to the architects the Containers on Grand complex will be finished and open by the end of spring. They also say, that they already have a lot of interest from he young professionals and students at Arizona State University’s downtown campus. They are expecting to rent the apartments for $950-$1000 a month.

Taco Bell Builds a Restaurant out of Shipping Containers

By Christine Walsh

The fast food company Taco Bell has unveiled a new restaurant at this year’s SXSW in Austin, TX. What sets this one apart is the fact that it was constructed entirely out of shipping containers. It seems more and more business are starting to adopt this new architecture trend, which given the surplus of shipping containers piling up in US ports each month truly is great news!

In the case of Taco Bell, we can perhaps expect more of these types of cargotecture restaurants, since they’re planning to open 2,000 new locations in the US by 2022, which means they are looking to cut costs wherever they can.

The new shipping container Taco Bell only has about half the footprint of a traditional Taco Bell, and the one in Austin was built in just three days, with most of the pre-prep done off site, of course. They have also opted to leave the containers in the original industrial condition, and even though they have been repainted, the company chose a color very similar to the original finish.

They also did not alter the original shapes of the containers very much, apart from cutting out the openings for doors, windows and ventilation. The main shipping container is the one where food is ordered and picked up, and this container also houses one entire food prep line. If an additional food prep line is needed, such as in areas of higher traffic, a second shipping container could easily be attached to the structure to provide it. To fight the feeling of claustrophobia felt by the workers in the back of the container, they added a window to the food prep area, so the backs of the employees as they prepare food is visible to the customers ordering the food.

They placed the storage and operations area into a second container, which also houses the manager’s office. The third container rests atop the bottom two and houses all the necessary cooling equipment. It would appear they also cut one container in half, and then welded the two parts to the main structure. One of these contains the bathrooms and the other the freezer.

However, this restaurant has no indoor space for the customers to sit. There is an outdoor eating area equipped with tables built from refinished wood pallets and giant wire spools laid on their sides, which is also a nice way to repurpose these materials.

Students Promoting Shipping Containers as Affordable Housing Solutions

By Christine Walsh

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Shipping containers might be a great way to build affordable homes fast and cheaply, but one of the problems is spreading awareness that such an affordable solution exists. To solve this, a team of University of Florida (UF) students is building a simple shipping container home in a month long campaign called “Imagine … a Place called Home,” which they hope will bring greater awareness to this architectural solution. They have the home on display at the Reitz Union North Lawn at UF where they invite people inside to learn more about this type of architecture.

The main aim of the project is to also promote the fact that affordable housing is more than just finding a good place to live, but also creating stability and community. They borrowed the shipping container from modular construction company Williams Scotsman and, with the help of Professor Stephen Bender and the UF organization Catalysts for Change, transformed it into a cozy home.

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They fitted it with windows and doors, and furnished it just like a real home, which includes a comfortable living area, a TV, and even an Air Conditioning unit. The interior walls of the shipping container were covered with drywall panels, while the floor is white tile. On the outside they left the container in it’s original condition so passersby know right away that this is actually a home made from a shipping container.

Given the shortage of affordable housing and the economy being what it is, it’s good to see more and more projects like this popping out. The solution to offering everyone a decent place to live might well be in raising awareness of all the possibilities. While shipping container architecture might be very popular right now, a lot of people are still a bit put off by the idea of living in a metal box especially if they have never seen such a home in real life. Projects like these, which invite people to see this type of architecture for themselves, are great way to promote shipping container homes.

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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