After the real estate debacle in the United States that left millions of Americans homeless, social housing has become a hot topic. The same issue can be found just across the border in Canada, which had to deal with its own version of social housing crisis.
A shipping container home Canada appears to be a viable housing option given the recent condition of the North American economy and the sheer number of decertified shipping containers that just sit gathering rust in ports and warehouses.
Shipping containers are made of steel alloy exteriors that could withstand weathering for a long time. Building experts estimate that these sea crates could last for a hundred of years given proper maintenance. More than being durable, end-of-life shipping containers can be refurbished for a reasonable fee (much smaller than construction costs of traditional buildings) and creatively restyled to be more than just storage spaces for the homeless.
Residential designers in Victoria, British Columbia, have come up with re-imagined designs for shipping containers that are both functional and aesthetic. They incorporate integral elements that lend livability to what is often thought of as stacks of industrial boxes that are more at home in dry docks than in residential zones. Bamboo materials and used wood create homey touches to these structures while floor-to-ceiling doors and windows make ventilation a non-issue (ventilation is often the main complaint against shipping containers).
With sea crate surplus in Canada, the supply of building materials is seemingly inexhaustible. This drives down the prices of shipping containers and make them far more affordable than traditional building materials. Additionally, because these materials are already prefabricated, assembly time is much shorter, so homeowners also save on labor costs.
What is more apparent, however, given our present awareness of the situation of the environment, is the fact that recycling shipping containers is a great leap forward towards reducing our global metal waste, considering that there are about 300 million decertified sea crates around the world. It also takes much less amount of energy to restyle shipping containers into living spaces than to salvage them and recast as industrial items.
Despite this obvious benefit and the gradual entry of shipping containers into mainstream architecture, there is still that lingering public perception of “cargotecture” as just “bunch of containers stacked up on top of each other.” Discounting the often very creative result of repurposed shipping containers could set back the progress of “cargotecture” in Canada, but it need not be the case.
People only had to look for inspiration everywhere to realize – and visualize – that a shipping container home Canada addresses real needs in various ways. On one hand, there is a housing situation that needs to be given adequate attention, and on the other, there is increasing pressure from environmental groups and attractive incentives from the government to reduce our carbon footprint. There certainly will be challenges along the way in terms of transforming these industrial-strength boxes into cozy living spaces, but as green architects and designers find out, the challenges are surmountable and the results are inspiring.