Shipping Container Home Construction Globally
Shipping Container Home construction has become one of the biggest home and office construction trends globally.
Since 2005 shipping containers began to appear in many news stories in the U.S., Canada, UK, Netherlands, China,
Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe. Shipping container construction has become popular for not only homes,
but for offices, hotels, student housing, safe rooms, and emergency shelters.
Lemons To Lemonade
The original interest began when the world realized that shipping containers were stacking up in the ports of every major
city in the world. In the United States alone the estimate was nearly 1 million in 2005. After much publicity and interest,
the total in the U.S. is said to have dropped to about 500,000 by the end of 2007. Similar decreases have been seen in
many other countries also.
It is well known that the rapid growth of manufacturing in China and the global thirst by virtually country for the lower priced,
high technology products from China has given to happier consumers and lower prices globally, but the side effect has
been the one-way shipping of all the containers bringing the products from China.
Through the efforts of many designers, builders and eco organizations, the surplus of shipping containers from China has
diminished greatly. The result of two years of publicity and awareness has stimulated a growing trend to construct housing,
offices, and apartments using the base of the standard Shipping Container. Much of my statistics and information have
come from the LA Port Authority, ISBU Association International, Bob Vila, and the Green Mechanical Council who are one of
the main organizers of EcoBuild America. The exposure of the problem, combined with the incredible strength and ease of
shipping container based construction has truly turned the problem into one of the fastest growing building trends globally.
...lemons to lemonade.
Beginning The Trend
The first person to thank for the Shipping Container Revolution is a man named Malcom McLean, who, in 1956 changed
the world by inventing the first shipping container concept, which not only brought the cost of loading and unloading down
90%, but speeded the loading process of a ship, from days to just a few hours.
There was much resistance to the change from the Dock Worker's Unions and shipping companies. The Dock Workers
would need to layoff many employees, and shipping companies must modify their ships to accommodate the new thing
called a shipping container.
It wasn't until the mid 1970's that containers became standard on every ship globally. The US Military began demanding
them for their shipments and supplies globally, and the success was so great the shipping companies had no option.
Thus, the ISO Shipping Container was fully born, legitimate and standardized as we see it now. Fill it at the factories;
truck it to the ship; load it 5-10 containers high; unload at the destination port; load onto another truck or rail car, then off load
at a warehouse near you.
Although the official name is ISO shipping container, it has been called a conex box by the military, just container, and also
cargo container. No matter what it is called, it's now the same size and ISO specification globally.
The Strongest Box In The World
So what is this incredible box that faces wind, rain, salt, typhoons, extreme weight, dropping and bumping for years?
The common ISO Shipping container is 20' or 40' long; 8' wide; and 8'6" tall. The taller version named HQ, which means
a High Cube (HQ) is the same dimensions but 1 foot taller. 20x8x9'6" or 40x8x9'6" -
· A special stronger steel named Corten steel that won't rust or corrode
· Mold resistant
· The Corten steel is used inside and out and is also stronger than normal steel
· A 1.24" plywood floor made of hardwood. Either teak, birch, or keruing laminates to withstand tons of internal weight
· Extremely adaptive to the most efficient Eco insulations
For many reasons, it's the strongest mobile or stationary structure in the world built to withstand typhoons, tornados,
hurricanes and even earthquakes. One or more of these incredible steel modules are the safest superstructure for a home,
school, office, apartment, dormitory, storage unit, emergency shelter. ...where would you rather be in a storm, hurricane or
earthquake? I think in a room made of strong Corten steel....
ISBU Construction Modules
Now we have a perfect box that is strong and virtually won't rust - what else can we do with it?
Almost everyone who has seen, or been inside a shipping container has thought, wow, and instant home. If not an instant
home, then an instant storage building or shelter.
For many years the shipping container has been used for storage units beginning with the military and also construction
companies. Soon there also modified and used as small workshops, refrigerators, then offices, and later employee
cabins. But when the Shipping Container is no longer used for shipping, the name changes. When it used for any other
purpose, other than transportation, the name for the ISO Shipping Container becomes ISBU. When you build with a
shipping container it is an ISBU; short for Intermodal Steel Building Unit. ...yes, in fact they are so popular now, they are
often purchased directly from the factory simply for the purpose of construction, not shipping. The construction module is
known as an ISBU to most people in the building construction trade.
So What Can We Do With This ISBU?
The ISBU shipping container has been popular in Europe, UK, Australia, China, and the US since 2005 or even before.
In Amsterdam and the UK, the ISBU shipping container units have been popular for Student Housing and apartments
since 2005. At about the same time in the US, people like Adam Kalkin, Peter De Maria, and the Lo-tek company in
New York began using the shipping container in contemporary art type homes. The homes looked like shipping containers,
but were designed in a very trendy way that was appealing to many.
In mid 2006 David Cross of SG Block was featured by Bob Vila and on many news programs because his company built
the first conventional looking home for a government project in St. Petersburg, Florida, and also made headlines because
he used the new Ceramic Insulation Paint technology from NASA as the insulation. ...conventional looking home,but with
new Eco-Green technologies. David Cross and others have easily proven that conventional homes can be constructed
using multiple ISBU shipping containers for the base superstructure for safety and durability.
With the help of Bob Villa, a video of the project in Florida helped to push Shipping Container Homes into a trend that is
making a Shipping Container Home project realistic and feasible in virtually any community.
With the establishment of the ISBU Association in early 2007, the growth of quality ISBU shipping container construction
has exploded as the promote the use of other Eco technologies and products with the promotion of ISBU based housing.
ISBU's are now be more easily adapted to conventional housing and office structures, both onsite and with the growth of
new ISBU shipping container Prefab and Modular companies in the US and even more so globally.
Commercial Uses of Shipping Containers Are Exploding
Most people only think ISBU shipping containers are used for simple home construction, emergency housing and maybe
secure storage units. In reality, the use of shipping containers for the base of commercial construction may as hot or even
hotter than residential home construction.
In 2007 some big players were in the news for their use of ISBU shipping containers commercially. SG Block constructed
a very conventional looking prefab office building the the US Army, Travelodge began the first of many new Travelodge Hotels
to be built of prefab ISBU shipping containers, and even Sun Microsystems jarred the business and technology sector with
it's BlackBox Datacenter that is self contained and can be shipped anywhere globally in hours.
"The world is waking up to the new ISBU trend", says John Sanders, General Manager of the ISBU Association International.
"They are no longer being used because they are cheap or plentiful, or even recyclable. They are now being used because
people realize shipping containers are the strongest, most flexible construction module in the world".
Shipping Container Homes, Plans, and Cargotecture Designs
In February 2011 the Container Home trends continue to grow. The Shipping Container Home plans and Shipping Container
Home designs are more plentiful now than ever before.
A recent news article in Time Magazine entitled, "Old Shipping Containers Are New Housing Trend" points out the cargo
home architecture and container home designs remain the fastest growing trend in Green construction.
The Time Magazine news article quoted the Director of the Intermodal Steel Building Unit Association (ISBA) indicating the
actual construction of Shipping Container homes has more than doubled in 2010. Architects, engineers, and designers are
showing interest in Container home construction and ISBU modules at a record pace.
[ More shipping container home projects and designs... ]