Shipping container architecture is a growing trend in the green building sector. The positive environmental elements that are brought to fruition by repurposing these structures make them specifically ‘green’ buildings, but it is their modular flexibility and unique aesthetic that has offered a major boost to their overall popularity.
In fact, shipping container architecture could go so far as to be seen as a trend. It has gained a high level of exposure and concurrent growth after it was used in a trendy London shopping district as pop-up shopping space, as well as by Google for some of the company’s office spaces.
As with any new idea, over time the shipping container has evolved to become even more efficient and innovative through a number of different re-imaginings of its use.
US architect Matthew Coates and aircraft structural engineer James Green have used shipping containers to devise a highly sustainable and efficient mode for home development – the ECO-PAK. As the name would suggest, the structural elements used in the construction of this new housing unit are packed flat and stored in a shipping container for around the world export.
Once at its intended destination, the shipping container housing the structural element for the build then becomes a part of the overall development. According to Coates, the design goes beyond standard shipping container architecture practices.
“The ‘ECO-PAK’ home changes the way we think about modular housing. Traditional container homes, designed to hold cargo, have not been highly successful because they’re claustrophobic and costly to modify – eventually the cost-benefit ratio falls apart,” says Coates. “We are doing something entirely different. It’s one thing to renovate the inside of a shipping box, but quite another to create an eco-friendly home that uses the box as a structure.”
The housing packages feature steel structural pieces, which then form the bases of a home, surrounding the shipping container, which can function as whichever room the client chooses, from kitchens to living spaces to dining spaces.
The ever-evolving green sector means that innovation such as the aforementioned development is only gaining momentum. The possibilities for a housing package such as this are almost endless.
A prototype of the development will be available come 2013.