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Green Architecture & Building Products

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Material or Product

Shipping Containers


Shipping containers can be used as the basis for habitable structures. They are relatively inexpensive, structurally sound and in abundant supply. As a container, they are dark, windowless boxes but they are highly customizable modular elements that can be joined or stacked into a larger structure. Windows and doorways can be added, as well as insulation.

There more than 20 million of these steel 40-foot-by-8- foot (12 by 2.4 meter) at ports around the world. There may be as many as one million shipping containers sitting unused, with a profound surplus in the United States, northern Europe and China.

“Container architecture” or "Cargotecture" has become a specialty for creating residences, retail and office structures. The benefits include that the containers are relatively cheap (around US$1,200~1,500 each). They are inherently portable and durable (made to survive rough treatment and resist salt corrosion). A container house can be built an estimated 40 percent faster than a comparably sized traditional house. Plus there's the environmental benefit of putting surplus containers to use.


Shipping Containers Recycled

Steel containers can be used for buildings as their steel construction and watertight door gaskets make them nearly impervious to moisture penetration, vermin infestation, rot, decay, and excess humidity. For added protection from extreme heat or cold, they can be insulated. ©2011 InterPort