First developed by Malcom McLean to transport cargo, freight containers withstand lots of abuse. Whether riding the rails or sailing the high seas, steel alloys develop a protective layer across the outside surface when exposed to the elements, making them more resistant to rust, water, and wind damage. When freight containers outlast their usefulness, they create unsightly piles at ports worldwide. More than two decades ago someone had the idea to use these discards as construction material, and now info about homes made from shipping and cargo containers is as widely available as it is for traditional, stick-built homes.
Few disadvantages accompany building with freight containers, including countering the natural conduction of heat, and using heavy machinery to move them. But the advantages greatly outweigh those. Shipping container cottages cost up to seventy-five percent less than those built with traditional materials. Steel is more resistant to things like mold and fire, and natural weather resistance means less wear and tear to the exterior. Unlike other types of homes, freight container housing has a special history all its own. A unique number assigned to each container tracks the location, change in ownership, and which contents it held while in use.
Info about homes made from shipping and cargo containers includes details for both leaving the exterior as is and transforming them into sophisticated-looking dwellings. Shipping container cottages with a low-pitched roof and central chimney harkens to a Frank Lloyd Wright design. Stacked atop one another and painted in eye-catching hues, they become a series of upscale, freight container apartments, or even a freight container city! Underground shipping container housing with features like composting toilets, solar power, and a system to harvest rainwater, underground shipping container housing creates an earth-berm home as green as the grass growing atop its sod-sheltered roof.
Companies like Container City turn single units into stand-alone merchant kiosks, or shipping container restaurants. Designed to complement existing chalet-style stores and eateries, London’s Chelsea Market saw shipping container restaurants and stores pop up overnight. The companies use multiple units to create schools, marketplaces, even a self-sustainable freight container city! Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market consists of 160-square-foot worth of recycled steel shipping containers. Along with info about homes made from shipping and cargo containers, like freight container apartments and shipping container cottages, the steel boxes have also found use as schools, offices, shipping container restaurants art galleries and medical clinics.
It’s unsure whether Malcom McLean could predict that his cargo boxes would make such an impact on the word, or that people would use them to make shipping container cottages, shipping container restaurants, or even a freight container city! In a generation conscious of the eventual need for a self-sustaining environment, recycling knows no bounds. And as long as manufacturers continue shipping products overseas in mass quantities, the containers continue piling up, providing plenty of material for those willing to think outside the box.