As the reality of global warming is becoming more difficult to ignore, more people and businesses are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Obviously, one of the most common, inexpensive and effective methods of reducing a carbon footprint is through multitudinous forms of recycling. While it has become almost expected for people to recycle plastic and aluminum, recycling has been taken to new heights, with battery companies recycling batteries to make eco-friendly batteries. Another method of recycling that is beginning to gain momentum is the recycling of cargo containers as different forms of shelter.
Cargo container architecture is actually becoming extremely popular, especially when it comes to creating forms of housing and shelter for humans, as well as all types of storage and operational facilities.
The Drive for Green
With the huge push for the citizens of earth to embrace the green concept on a global level, there has been a substantial increase in the number of people and businesses that have turned to cargo container architecture as a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to traditional architecture. There are a countless number of containers that are no longer in use, taking up space on shipping docks and in shipping yards. By using these containers to create structures in which humans can reside, it has the potential to address multiple issues, including the consumption of natural resources to build homes and shelters, and the increased need for shelter.
When a survey of countries around the world is taken, it reveals that there is an immense surplus of containers. One of the reasons for this is that the cost to purchase new containers from Asia is actually lower than the cost to ship empty containers back to their country of origin. So, unless there is a shipment going back to the country of origin, a container can sit on a shipping dock indefinitely.
Legal Conversion of Containers into Shelters
In industrialized countries, like Australia, the United States, etc., there are a number of federal and state regulations that govern the erection of structures that are to be occupied by humans. These regulations are for the safety of the individuals occupying the structure, and the general public. This means that in order for containers to be legally used as an architectural structure in which humans reside, it has to meet certain standards. On November 23, 1987, the first patent was filed for converting cargo containers into livable structures, and there has been a constant evolution of how these structures are designed and built ever since.
In 2006, the first two-story shipping container shelter home was designed and built. One of the primary concerns that many people have when considering the use of shipping containers to erect a residential or operational shelter is the potential for the conduction of heat, due to the use of metal. Over time, there have been a number of different approaches used to reduce the heat that can be produced due to the metal being such an effective conductor of heat. One of the most effective methods currently being used is the use of fabrics that have been UV stabilized — allowing the structure to effectively reflect the damaging rays that come from the sun. Properly installed traditional insulation is another method that allows container-home owners to maintain a cool environment, while sustaining low energy cost.
Reduced Construction & Material Costs
Used containers are remarkably inexpensive when being compared to the traditional construction equipment that would be required to erect a livable structure. Additionally, for companies that are interested in designing structures that can be quickly erected and dismantled, cargo containers are an ideal option. Shipping container shelters can be designed to be quickly installed and easily dismantled, which is ideal for those companies that need that type of mobile capacity.
Reduced Sound Transmission
While conventional reason would suggest that a structure built from metal containers would create problems with sound transmission, the fabrics and material that are used to insulate the structure also serve to dampen sound, and the architecture can be designed in a manner that reduces echoes — producing a more controlled and comfortable environment.
There is no shortage of ways that these containers can be used, from storage shelters to temporary residence for employees working in remote locations. Because these containers can be easily disassembled and transported, they make an ideal alternative for mobile structure erections. While the restricted sizes of the vast majority of containers around the world can create some dimensional challenges, most architects have found some unique modalities for addressing these challenges, so what used to be considered limited as far as creativity is concerned is slowly being addressed.
Because containers are in abundance, it simply makes sense for individuals and businesses to use them to create shelters that can be used for a number of different things. Shipping container shelters are also highly durable, meaning that they have the capacity for longevity and durability. It is obvious that the trend of using shipping container architecture will continue.