Shipping container homes

Skinners Adventure Playground South Melbourne

From pop-up shopping malls to low-cost housing, shipping container construction offers creative and energy efficient possibilities, writes Kathryn Kernohan.

More than 420 million shipping containers set sail each year, criss-crossing the globe as they transport goods from port to port on ships the size of small countries.

But with little financial incentive for empty containers to be returned to their origin, many inventive businesses and architects are finding ways to recycle and reuse them. The idea makes sense on several levels—shipping containers are cheap, easily transported and provide a blank canvas for creativity.

Keeping business contained
From a business perspective, opening shop in a converted shipping container provides a clear point of difference to the usual high street stores.

East London is home to Boxpark, an eco-friendly shopping mall constructed of 61 shipping containers. Dubbed the world’s first pop-up shopping mall, the moveable centre opened in late 2011 on a five-year lease. Its thickly insulated walls mean air conditioning is not required, and the entire centre was assembled on site, eliminating unnecessary waste.

Accessory manufacturer Freitag—well known for making bags from recycled truck tarps—implemented its environmental ethos in its flagship store in Switzerland, made of 17 reclaimed shipping containers stacked 26 metres high.

Closer to home, trendy Melbourne bar Section 8 sits in two containers in a quiet city laneway.

Self-contained and portable
The ever-constant search for affordable and sustainable housing has led to a spike in the number of Australians working with the form.

Read the full article in ReNew 122.

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