Sustainable Designs with Shipping Containers

GREEN, LEED, efficient, sustainable, and affordable have all been popular issues for today’s designers.  Many people around the world including architects, engineers, and designers have been examining new ways of considering these topics.  There are many ways to acknowledge sustainability and therefore feel we should speak about one of them.  I find the issue of re-using materials really appealing.  There are many materials in the world that have been labeled as trash and waste just because they are old.  Many of these materials are actually good and can still be used for something.  The problem is there hasn’t been a clever idea to think of a second reuse for that material.  Many materials, although designed for one purpose, could easily be designed for a second one.

One clever use of a material that I feel deserves attention is the re-use of shipping containers.  After researching the topic a little more, I have found that many people have begun transforming shipping crates into living spaces.  I find this to be one of the most ingenious ways of re-use I have seen in awhile.  The numbers of cargo containers that are not used anymore or have been replaced with new ones are astonishing.  They are relatively cheap and are available in great quantities around the world.  Using such a material for housing has numerous opportunities for today’s market place.  The site, Recycled Shipping Containers for Efficient, Flexible, and Affordable Green Architecture, offers some really thought-provoking ideas for housing units.  Using shipping containers as places to reside enables designers to develop many new ways of living.  Not only does this type of living create efficient living but the possibilities for affordable living as well.

On I found an interesting article about this topic.  The site called, 10 clever Architectural Creations Using Containers: Shipping Container Homes and Offices, hints at several ideas for the use of shipping containers.  The site displays architectural uses of the containers in all different types of scenarios from offices, to malls, to residential housing.  The site goes on to say,

“There are plenty of benefits to the so-called shipping container architecture model. A few of these advantages include: they are plentiful, they are easily transported, they’re stackable, relatively inexpensive (as little as $900 for a used container), they can be prefabricated, and they’re extremely durable.”

With the surplus of materials available and wide variety of creative ideas, I feel it is our obligation to use them accordingly.  One of the clever ideas that I will bring attention to is a design by Clive Wilkinson.  The unique design, located to the right, creates office spaces out of stacking the shipping crates in a design oriented way.  There are many offices that could use similar style designs.  This would be much cheaper and more efficient.

Acknowledging the uses of just this material only makes me imagine what we could do with other materials.  As a society we need to start considering what’s around us in different ways.  We need to stop overlooking used and old materials as trash.  Instead, we need to use these so called ‘invaluable’ materials and make them a sustainable resource.  In the near future I will be designing and posting a design using shipping containers as my main inspiration.  As I continue to work on my own inspiration, I would love to see and hear from all of my followers.  What materials are you working with and how do you engage yourself in sustainable practices.


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