The New American Dream: Think Inside The Box
By Jojo Balogh
Until the eponymous 2007 movie, I had never given much thought to a Bucket List. In the ensuing years, several wrenches in life got me thinking – it’s time to start living for me. But where? With whom? I haven’t gotten that far yet. But one item on my bucket list has me dreaming of living in a cargo-shipping container. You heard that correctly. Well, maybe more than one shipping container. Maybe two. Or more.
Invented more than five decades ago, the modern shipping container remains the linchpin of the world’s global distribution network. Everything from Chinese toys, textiles from India, grain from America, and German cars to Japanese electronics cross our great oceans in them. However, steel shipping containers outlive their usefulness as cargo carriers within five years, and they often sit abandoned at shipyards. Now, they’re gaining increasing recognition for their durability, adaptability, light weight, and ease of stacking, spurring a recycling trend that has resulted in shipping container sculpture, homes, hotels, museums and more. The big metal boxes are dry, fire resistant and quite readily available. They can be readily modified with a spectacular range of creature comforts, and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor and resources of more conventional materials.
Check out this four-story condo for example. The architects who created this live and work in these shipping containers which are stacked four high. The bottom floor is used for work, the dining room is located on the second floor, relaxation room on the third, and spectacular rooftop views from the fourth – including a relaxing spa.
As the green movement continues and our economic downturn becomes more prolonged, the dream of homeownership isn’t the only thing going the way of printed newspapers. Come along with me on this visual journey and discover the exciting possibilities of cutting edge shipping container architecture, including offices and luxury condos, vacation homes, office space, malls, and even a museum.
Papertainer Museum in Seoul, South Korea
Need a temporary structure or small vacation home? Going off the grid? The Port-a-Bach might be a good fit. Costing around $55,000, Port-a-Bach sleeps two adults and two children comfortably, in a dwelling that folds up into a fully enclosed steel shell. The Port-a-Bach system comes with large internal storage cupboards and shelves; a stainless steel kitchen; bathroom with shower, sink and composting toilet; bunk beds and dressing room.
Utrecht is home to the largest university in the Netherlands (Utrecht University), so it’s not surprising that the region would face a housing crunch.
Shipping container dormitories also helped a housing shortage in France.
A container home in Quebec
All-terrain cabin. Portable! Suitable for a family of four, plus a pet, the cabin folds up and can be sent via rail, truck, ship, airplane or even helicopter. The cabin quickly unfolds to 480 square feet of living space!
Multi-container house in Redondo Beach, CA which uses eight prefabricated and recycled steel containers along with traditional building materials. According to the architects, the modified containers are “nearly indestructible.”
This home is made from five shipping containers. It may be the right color box…but ladies, it’s not from Tiffany!
Another interesting project structure is this restaurant wrapped in glass. This 1,000 square foot restaurant yields a true minimalistic, industrial look. Over 120 people can dine it it.
And, a few more pics to get your creative juices flowing even more!
There must easily be hundreds of applications for this versatile metal box. Now I’m relying on you to leave me your great ideas in the comments section below. In the meantime, I’m going to dream!
Jojo Balogh is something of a pop culture legend in her own mind, and those of her friends. She was number one on their lists of people to use as phone-a-friends on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.