Shipping containers have been used for both commercial and residential building for quite some time now. The concept of recycling these industrial containers into habitable spaces is a growing trend, one that is finally receiving global attention and true legitimacy from the industry.
Traditionally the practice of building with containers has been promoted as an ideal sustainable option, and why wouldn’t it be? The containers are either recycled or already prefabricated for shipping needs, cost as little as $1,500 to as much as $6000 per container and are a solid unit made using only steel, limiting the energy used to produce more complex structures with a more diverse range of materials.
However, if we look past the green aspects, shipping container use in construction actually makes for an easy and safe build, in addition to offering an incredibly innovative and aesthetically pleasing façade, factors that the industry is starting to realise. It has meant the creation of ‘Cargotecture’ a term coined by Hybrid Architecture to describe this innovative.
The durability and stability of the shipping container made them the perfect form for Christchurch’s Re: START program’s shipping container mall. The program has been created in order to reinvigorate the area after the horrific devastation caused by earthquakes at the beginning of this year, using the construction of shopping malls and community districts to lift the spirits of residents and generate economic stimulus in the area.
Shipping containers were an obvious choice for a section of the mall, with the 27 stores fitted into the brightly coloured boxes. The containers appeal due to their bright colours as well as their ability to withstand extreme environmental impacts, such as earthquakes.
While environmental durability may not be an issue for London’s Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up mall, the ease, low costs and fun aesthetic have offered London’s retails up and comers a great fashion platform from which to promote themselves. 61 containers have been installed in the shopping strip next to the Shoreditch Underground station, with low lease rates offering greater retail opportunity.
But how do the use of shipping containers in retail ventures effect the industry? Well quite a lot actually.
Due to the mobile nature of the containers, they are easily put up and pulled down, they do not involve the same workplace hazards as other more traditional construction ventures due to their fix unit nature, and perhaps most significantly, change the ‘in place’ nature of the construction industry, offering a new and liquid alternative.
It seems that shipping containers are firmly positioning themselves as industry go-to structures. As the use of cargotecture increases, ease and freedom for design posibilities, the idea of a permanent structures may become a less popular.