There is no doubt that shipping containers are tough. Built tough from weathering corrugated steel, these incredible tough building blocks of international trade are designed to withstand stacking, stuffing and strapping and are reused over and over again. There is an estimate of over 18 million of these containers floating, riding and flying around the earth today, but the most recent sustainable design trend has found these containers revamped to contain a more delicate cargo: People.
Used shipping containers are built to carry payloads of 20 tons, across the oceans of the world, without distorting or corroding. They are built to precise measurements so that they can be stacked on top of each other, loaded onto trucks, trains and ships and precisely lock into place so they won’t move in transit. They are designed so that they can carry their 20-ton payload supported by only the four corners of the container, without distorting and I repeat, they can be sacked on top of each other. They are sealed to be weather proof and secure to prevent break-in and theft.
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Consider also the time and material usage in building the frames, erecting and finishing them, all adding to the cost of he structure. Consider also the foundations of the traditional structure, the many stumps to stabilize the floor, or the concrete slab. Then there is the vermin proofing, and decay proofing to add to the costs.
But there is a solution to this problem. Proponents of the idea, including professors, students, nonprofit organizations and some members of the building industry suggest that the containers should be designed so that conversion is possible at some point in the future. They could have removable panels that would not endanger the integrity of the container when it’s being used for shipping and could be easily removed when the container is needed in an emergency for shelter. When needed, these containers could then be transported and set up much faster and would be a much more comfortable solution for the victims.
While the use of shipping containers for shelter is not new, the thought of making architectural statements and unique creations is. Architects strive to create a feeling of openness, light and beauty using the prefab shipping containers as the foundation.
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