Admin on September 27, 2014 6 Comments photo credit One of the more exciting applications of green architecture and design in recent decades has been the re-purposing of those ubiquitous shipping containers that arrive in mass quantities at every port in the world. Abandoned containers have long been occupied by squatters around the globe, but now they have actually become cool with growing segments of the world’s population, particularly the young. The advantages of these new container homes and apartments include low energy use, low cost and the recycling of a material that has often simply rusted when no longer needed. Here are several applications of shipping containers made into living spaces. 1. Urban Container “Cities”: photo credit London and Amsterdam appear to be the clear leaders in this trend. These “cities” can be put together in a very short amount of time as studio apartments are designed within each container. The shipping containers stack easily, often up to three or four stories, to make an instant neighborhood. These cities also draw notice because the vast majority of materials used to outfit them are recycled as well. 2. University Dormitories: Another popular application of container living has been for university dorms, where students have responded even more enthusiastically than designers anticipated. These container dorms look pleasing to the eye, have common areas that draw students into community and can be built for a fraction of what ordinary dormitories cost. They have been found to be surprisingly quiet and a wonderful option for students who cannot afford the prices of urban housing. These dorms often have central heating, supercharged WiFi and bike storage areas. Most of the containers have large windows, study areas, bedrooms, bathrooms, small kitchens and even balconies. Students love living in dorms that they believe are keeping the planet green. 3. Luxury Small Homes: photo credit Less common, but extremely trendy, these container homes can be found both near beaches and in usual settings for vacationers, such as mountains and quiet rural hideaways. Artists’ colonies have incorporated container homes, and some of the designs for beach homes boggle the mind. These luxury homes require far more than just one container, obviously, so they cannot be grouped into the most common stream of container conversions, which emphasize simplicity and green living. Even “luxury” shipping container homes are a bit of a misnomer because they cost about ¼ as much as standard homes to build. That puts luxury within the reach of many more new home buyers. 4. Rural Cabins: Containers can look kind of strange in the middle of the Canadian prairie, but they are starting to pop up in less traveled parts of the world. These cabins are intended to be extremely energy-efficient and contain all of the conveniences needed to live in the wild. Some models even fold out from within containers to create up to 500 square feet of living space. 5. Eco-Friendly Modules: These container homes seem to best capture the spirit of recycling these structures as living spaces. They can be found in many cities and their numbers will grow as the Green Revolution continues to gain steam. These homes are often solar powered, have floors made from recycled materials, and have double-paned windows for greater insulation. 6. Insta-houses: These homes differ from modules in that they are constructed from containers, not contained within a single container. They are suitable for families, not just singles, and can come in prefabricated kits. One waiting list for such homes in the U.S. is six months long; demand is high. If any designer or company can figure out how to mass-produce these ready-to-erect homes, they will almost certainly become quite rich. photo credit These types of houses can include up to 2,000 square feet of living space at a cost of under $200,000, which includes shipping and construction. The shell goes up in a day, while the interior is filled out in a matter of months. Many of these insta-houses produce their own energy via solar panels and wind turbines. Others have green roofs and super-efficient insulation. If you have a family and want to go green, this version of container homes will be attractive. 7. Temporary Housing: Both squatters and victims of earthquakes and other natural disasters have found temporary quarters in shipping containers, often near ports. Containers are appreciated by these populations for their dryness and resistance to fire. Some temporary refugee housing has become permanent as people realize they are superior to their former dwellings. Another form of temporary housing has been quick container villages set up to accommodate workers at building sites. The containers become temporary dorms for the men and women on these sites, many of whom have traveled far from home for work. 8. Schools: In a few port areas, containers have been turned into classrooms and administrative buildings as they are stacked. Amsterdam has led the way in this application of recycled containers. The humble and unsightly shipping container is making quite a splash as green designers seek to recycle them and feed the growing green movement with a variety of living spaces. College students and other young adults have snapped up the dorms and small houses that have arisen out of creative container design. As these containers continue to be outfitted and created for singles and families, they will grow in popularity and hopefully help to save the planet. photo credit More Shipping Container Conversions In less-publicized trends, containers have also been re-fitted to become: Cafes and restaurants Storage units Research labs Water treatment units Mobile offices Storm shelters Workshops Hunting camps Surely this list will grow as green designers continue to create ways to recycle all sorts of building materials. The container has gone from rusting eyesore to trendy mobile unit in a very short amount of time.