Via BoingBoing, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Shipping Container.

“By dramatically lowering freight costs, the container transformed economic geography. Some of the world’s great ports saw their bustling waterfronts decay as the maritime industry decamped to new locations with room to handle containers and transport links to move them in and out. Manufacturers, no longer tied to the waterfront to reduce shipping costs, moved away from city centres, decimating traditional industrial districts. Eventually, production moved much farther afield, which took advantage of cheap, reliable transportation to make goods that could not have been exported profitably before containerisation.”

There is a growing movement of innovators active in transforming the common shipping cargo containers into dwellings, studios, shops, and live/work spaces. A design/archetecture collective has sprung up in Seattle, made up of architects Robert Humble and Joel Egan.

A related blurb at Another Limited Rebellion: Cargo Cult

Although, in raw form, containers are dark windowless boxes (which might place them at odds with some of the tenets of modernist design…) they can be highly customizable modular elements of a larger structure.

The Kalkin House

Kalkin House

The Kalkin House, built in 2001 and formerly known as the Collector’s House, is an inventive work of contemporary architecture by Adam Kalkin. Three trans-oceanic shipping containers define the interior spaces of the two-story prefabricated structure. A 20′ x 80′ metal building of a type normally used for warehouses is the outer shell of the house.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there is enough space in rentable self-storage lockers in the U.S. for each man, woman and child to stand on a spot 2 ½ feet by 2 ½ feet, with room left over. The U.S. has 1.875 billion square feet of self-storage space. While 40 percent of the total self-storage space is rented by businesses, one in every 11 American households now has a self-storage unit. That’s up from one in 17 in 1995. A third of the units are rented by people with incomes under $30,000 a year. The self-storage industry’s revenue is $15 billion. Self-storage facilities increasingly are high-rises, many with elevators and climate control. And, abandoned big-box retail stores are being converted into storage facilities.

The Glide House

Glide House

The Glide House is probably the most well-known pre-fab home because of their appearance in the Sunset Magazine with the creation of the Breezehouse. The Glidehouse modular home is a modern home designed by Michelle Kaufmann Designs for clean, simple living in collaboration with nature. It offers an affordable, low-maintenance, well-designed green housing alternative.

Designed for clean, simple living, the Glidehouse modular home allows some customization by the owner. The Glidehouse is built in a factory, using the most modern and environmentally-friendly building methods and materials. It can be built in as little as eight to fourteen months, at a cost comparable to or below traditional site-built homes

Global Peace Containers

Global cargotecture

Global Peace Containers is an not-for-profit organization that has perfected a method and system to economically convert retired international shipping containers into sustainable housing and community buildings such as medical facilities, schools and neighborhood centers.

Shigero Ban

Shigero Ban Ashes and Snow

I first became acquainted with the architect Shigero Ban when I saw a paper structure he built in Japan. Imagine how excited I was to view the massive paper and cargo container structure he built on the Santa Monica Pier for the Ashes and Snow exhibit.

Shigero Ban, nomad museum

The Nomadic Museum is a temporary structure designed by renowned architect Shigeru Ban to house Gregory Colbert’s Ashes and Snow. It is constructed of 152 steel cargo containers, stacked 34 feet high and combined with largely recyclable and reusable materials to form the structural elements. The building’s design evokes the journey of the exhibition as it travels to ports of call around the world.

Shigero Ban Ashes and Snow, nomadic museum

Inside, visitors enter the gallery space via a central wooden walkway bordered on either side by stone-filled bays over which the unframed artworks are hung from thin cables and suspension rods installed between the columns. This threshold establishes a visual boundary between the physical space of the public walkway and the mystical domain of the images. Above, a diaphanous handmade curtain made of one million pressed paper tea bags from Sri Lanka is suspended from the ceiling, floating 40 feet above the floor.

The Nomadic Museum was first constructed in New York before moving to Santa Monica. It will be disassembled and reconstructed as Ashes and Snow travels to other venues in the United States, South America, Asia and Europe’s story
He Builds With a Really Tough Material: Paper

Design Boom’s interview with Shigeru Ban and his Paper Loghouse

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  1. Pingback: Wow that’s a BIG BOX! « project + progress

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