Thursday, November 6, 2008

Box Living

Containers aren't just for cargo anymore.

The Honolulu Advertiser has a story today about the increase of new homes constructed from recycled cargo containers.

And if there's one thing we seem to have a lot of in this county, it's cargo containers.

From the story:

"The simple layout of the house is an enclosed foyer between two pairs of containers, all of which is set in a foundation. Interior container walls are partially removed to make room connections. Exterior walls are insulated and feature windows on the broad sides and sliding glass doors on the ends. ...

On the Mainland, one driver of the trend is America's trade deficit that brings in millions of containers from China and other countries each year without a return trip for many of the boxes."

The story is actually a pretty good round-up of the "cargotecture" industry worldwide, including a start-up in New Mexico that wants to produce stacks of 320-square-feet studio apartments for workers in Mexico. It notes that there is a lot of potential there, but there are a lot of challenges to this type of housing, too. (Zoning, permits, etc.)

If you want more information, here's a link to how to design, buy, and build a container house.

From that site:

"So-called bulktainers make the best modules as they are made of metal and have been used to ship dry goods on transoceanic voyages. The container’s ID number can be used to determine the container’s age. Once a suitable cargo container (or containers) has been located and met the buyer’s specifications, you can negotiate a very reasonable price of a couple thousand dollars each, plus shipping to the purchaser’s location.

Depending on what the plans are for the project’s final use, designing cargo container homes is relatively uncomplicated. The modular format necessitated by the shape of the containers tends to limit freedom of expression but also lends itself to practical, form-follows-function formats. An excellent example is the pre-fab, DIY Container Home Kit from LOT-EK that employs 40-foot-long shipping containers joined and stacked in various configurations."

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