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High housing prices, difficult housing prices, can container houses solve the crisis?

The American "Business Week" pointed out: "The invention of the container transformation house will solve the housing problem of hundreds of millions of poor families."

In this issue, let's take a look at the exploration and implementation of the use of container prefabricated houses as building materials in various countries in the world to solve the problem of urban population living.

@London, England

In response to the trend for flexible housing in central London, DSK Studio has designed a modern apartment hotel constructed from recycled shipping containers in a London neighbourhood. The project combines the texture of a boutique hotel with the personal experience of an apartment, resulting in an adaptable high-quality space that can meet the needs of residents in all aspects of life, work, dining and sleep.

The hotel design scheme features fin-like elements that focus on simplicity, solidity and durability. The hotel has a 5-storey modular volume with each room constructed from 30-foot recycled shipping containers. The façade is welded from a series of steel fin-like elements for privacy and shading. The multi-surface screen walls give the building a different look and feel from different angles, thus giving it a changing character.

The windows of each apartment contain a simple and fixed high-performance double-laminated glazing unit, and the privacy of the space is guaranteed by a pattern printed under the glass. The ground floor reception area and Unwined bar provide an inspiring leisure destination for locals and pedestrians on Lower Marsh Street.

The hotel rooms have a simple and compact layout with high-quality natural wood and marble finish details. The kitchen is equipped with everyday appliances such as dishwasher, sink, microwave, etc. The upholstered wall in the bedroom doubles as a TV wall. The soft gradient color scheme makes the space appear more spacious and ensures the comfort of the occupants with the help of the "tunnel effect".

A key point of the design was to connect the space with the surrounding urban context: the semi-enclosed rear wall allows residents to look out to the expansive skyline of London's South Bank district.

@France Le Havre

Cité A Docks is a student apartment renovated from old shipping containers in France. It has 100 rooms, each of 24 square meters, with natural lighting, privacy protection, thermal insulation and sound insulation. Each room is equipped with a toilet, kitchen and free Wi-Fi. The network meets the needs of students for daily study and rest.

The idea of ​​building a student dormitory with containers was inspired by simple container houses in the UK and the Netherlands.

Because of its low cost (using waste containers as raw materials), simple construction (no need for reinforced concrete or bricks and tiles), convenient occupancy (instant living), and cheap (all utilities, 250 euros per month). And sturdy and durable, waterproof and fireproof, convenient for all water and water facilities. The service life is about 100 years, which is much longer than the 20-year life of general waste containers.

@Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Solidam Apartment is a mixed-economic housing designed by MVRDV in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

This building is different from traditional houses. It is 400 feet long, 65 feet wide and 10 stories high. It is like a container ship "rising" from the edge of Amsterdam harbor, becoming a new landmark in the port area. From the outside, Silodam is very simple, but inside it is filled with a large number of residential units, economically mixed into a "mini-community", with a series of communal corridors and walkways allowing people to easily go from one end to the other.

The building contains 157 apartments, offices and public spaces. The width of each apartment varies from 20 to 50 feet; the depth ranges from half the building width to the full width; and the height varies from one to three stories.

The building abandoned reinforced concrete as the main material, and opted for cost-effective aluminum panels and aluminum windows, making the building look light, dynamic and colorful.

The building is divided into four major sections and the apartments are further divided into 4 to 10 "blocks" of the same type. Interesting expressions of colors and materials on the façade are intended to reflect the interior arrangement by giving each block a different exterior treatment. Interior corridors are also color-coded for each block. The city-facing sky terrace faces the sea, forming an interactive landscape of the bay and its residents. An open patio area with a bottom designed to allow small boats to pass freely.


Just a stone's throw from La Rambla, Barcelona's central boulevard, 12 shipping container apartments have been built to accommodate people driven out of the neighborhoods they once lived in by gentrification.

Industrial containers are stacked on the narrow streets, creating a strong contrast to the old town's old face. The project was initially opposed by the council as a result, but with more than 1,000 people already lined up on the emergency housing list, the project went ahead as planned.

From the inside, these "apartments" are not as crowded and dilapidated as imagined, and some are divided into one-bedroom and one-bedroom or two-bedroom and one-bedroom. Some designers and proponents are trying to improve the living environment of the small box, subverting the people's ingrained guesses and the pictorial imagination of canned sardines.

The total cost of the container project in Barcelona is EUR 940,000. "We can deliver an apartment in a year, whereas traditional buildings take six to eight years to complete."

In addition, the Ciutat Vella “Old Town” project is very different in location from previous public housing projects. Most of the public housing is built in the suburbs, with a tall building erected in empty fields, poor infrastructure and urban life, and the poor are constantly pushed further to the fringes of the city.

In the existing community, it is an idea that is being explored to place housing at the spot to further increase the density of the city. Having your own privacy and reliable sleep can help people reintegrate into society better than sleeping on the street, or tossing around on a friend's couch. Through the adjustment of space within the city, the residents of public housing can connect with more social resources.

@ Mumbai, India

In Dharavi, the heart of Mumbai, India, a large number of poor people gather. The harsh environment and high population density are surprising. This is the second largest slum kiln in the world and the largest in Asia.

The GA design firm from India has been considering solving part of the housing problem for the 600,000 poor people in Dharavi. Especially considering that Mumbai is a large port, it is very convenient to obtain and recycle containers, and the low cost of renovation allows GA Design to find an outlet.

Considering that the stacking of steel containers alone can reach 10 storeys without any additional support, GA's winning proposal consists of a series of self-supporting container groups to form a 100-meter high-rise building, separated by steel beams every 8 storeys. Its own steel skin loads like a "monocoque" structure, reducing the cost of additional beams and columns. The structural design of a 100-meter-high high-rise building (about 32 floors) requires the placement of mullions, connected to steel beams every 8 floors.

Each apartment is made up of 3 standard size shipping containers. The design is staggered for aesthetic and ergonomic purposes. Slabs on cantilevers above the lower floors form a covered corridor. The residential units are arranged symmetrically around a core that houses the vertical loops, the elevators and stairs. The inlet is used as a tube well for vertical hydroelectric supply. There are solar panels on the west side of the entrance and micro wind turbines on the east side to provide hybrid electricity.

With sustainability in mind, every container is recyclable from ports near Mumbai. Recycled locally produced terracotta bricks will be used for screens that enclose the building's open corridors. Simple bolt-on assembly is simple and quick. Horizontally staggered units maximize surface daylighting. Not only that, solar panels and micro wind turbines are installed on the south and west sides of the high-rise to generate energy.

Although the plan of GA Design Office has not yet been implemented, it is really eye-catching in solving urban living problems by using containers as building materials. This new idea also allowed GA Design Office to win the award of the Global Design Creativity Competition .

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