why shipping containers?

The question is “why shipping containers?”.  But the real question should be why NOT shipping containers, also known as ISBU’s.  Some of you may even ask “what the hell is an ISBU?”  Intermodal Steel Building Unit – ISBU.

typical shipyard - image courtesy of google

What we’re talking about is affordable architecture.  We’re talking about a new way of looking at building and construction and how architecture is created in a sustainable and modular environment.  So why shipping containers?

Again, why not?  They are structural, modular and, thanks to our lagging economy, EVERYWHERE.  So why not build with them?  They even come in various sizes: 10′, 20′ and 40′.  You can even get containers already insulated (talk about saving on construction materials!).  It’s more like playing with legos when you were a kid really….well, not really, but close.

Being modular allows for the standardizing of typical living spaces like sleeping units, bathing units, etc.  This does require some finesse and imagination as to how spaces are laid out and relate to one another.  At least this is how I feel about it.  I’m not much for creating the same typical “home” out of shipping containers, though it can be done and easily (google is full of useless information on this).  For me, using ISBUs as architectural building blocks is a challenge and an opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to rethink the modern home.  I have to ask myself “how can I create a livable, functional home out of as few of these cubes as I can?”

Container 3 prototype

I’ve long thought that the typical home wastes a lot of space and offers almost nothing in the way of creativity or imagination.  By experimenting with modular construction (not necessarily ISBUs, any modular will do) you’re forced to whittle down the functions of a home to the bare essentials and think about how to make the most out of very little.  Not to mention, by reducing the square footage you invariably reduce the construction costs.

But don’t take my word for it.  I don’t even take my own word for it.  I rely on the expertise of much wiser and braver pioneers.  Check out:

Renaissance Ronin – a true genius in his own mind.
Container Habitat – a source for container homes all over the world.
Tiny House Blog – another good resource.

Obviously there are scores of others who are interested in and doing their part to pioneer this alternative architectural style, but these are ones that I look at most often.  You can also check out my company website for some other examples of affordable, modern and container home designs that I’ve done at r | one studio architecture.


About Jeremiah

Birth: April 6 - Upstate New York Education: Savannah College of Art and Design Bachelor of Fine Art - 2003 Masters of Architecture - 2003 Member AIA National since 2004 Member AIA Florida since 2004 Member AIA Jacksonville since 2004 Member Emerging Design Professionals Jacksonville since 2006 Emerging Design Professional President 2009-2010 View all posts by Jeremiah

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