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Cliff Lyon
May 14, 2010
Jeffrey White
Aug 14, 2009

Sarah House Utah

There are 19 million shipping containers in the world, many used only once, a shipping container is a natural building block to become an item for habitation or pre-manufactured home. When you are creating products your utilizing the earth’s resources and it needs to be in a responsible way, (reusing materials saves money, saves energy, save natural resources).

I built the Sarah House because I felt it was important and environmentally conscience and it seemed to make sense, the satisfying thing about containers is that they rarely end up in the trash, we cannot continue to pollute our environment and degrade our resources. Containers are not the answer to everything but they’re just a really small part of a much larger network. International Standard Containers is exactly that. They are precisely within a couple of millimeters the same size, because all those containers join together, there availability everywhere in the world makes them a wonderful building block to work with. These are simple homes that can be converted to emergency and relief housing for people that are displaced by disasters such as hurricane, floods, fires, and earthquakes. This style of home is designed to be mass-produced inexpensively, easy to ship and to stockpile. Some of the reasons for making surplus containers into architecture are obvious; they are cheap and plentiful.

A 40 ft container delivered will cost between 1800-3200 depending upon location to port, Because of trade imbalances it is sometimes more economical for shippers to sell used containers here than ship back empty, they are terrifically strong and durable, designed to be stacked 14 units deep and 9 high on docks, They are highly portable, handily delivered by truck, train, ship, and they maybe the most direct efficient form of turning recycled goods into housing, less obviously all the structural load in a 8 x 40 by 9 ½ foot container is carried by the corner castings, steel columns at each of the four corners, this means that doors and windows can occur anywhere else in the structure, whole walls can be cut and replaced with glass and interior walls can be anywhere or nowhere. The boxes can be stacked like giant Lego blocks, cantilevered into space to create intriguing overhangs and practical decks, or disassembled and reconfigured or moved to meet the needs of changing land uses or peoples needs, underused, postage stamp lots sprinkled through out the urban areas could host a cargo container mini tower of 4-6 apartments for 10 yrs, say, and when the land becomes ripe for another use, the tower could be unbolted in a short time, its site cleared in a day even the foundation is temporary and the land would return to its natural state in the space of a season.

There isn’t a lot of what we normally think of architecture in this prototype. It isn’t picturesque, refined or sensual its cultural associations are all about sweaty cargo ports and industrialization --- not exactly the stuff of home sweet home dreams, but it’s a stunning reminder of what architecture ought to be about : solving some of civilizations thorniest problems by radically reconsidering the built environment.


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Shipping Container Buildings Last Updated on 2009-05-06 19:16:23 A collection of photos and captions from an article found on The Daily Green about buildings being constructed out of shipping containers. View the full article here. More »