RE: Architecture In A Can

The previous post started with a statement meant to be provocative, which was, “Who would have ever thought of re-using old shipping containers for anything other than its intended purpose of storage?”.  The author then goes on to highlight shipping container architecture as a practical and somewhat genius innovation.  I may have had the same initial impression upon discovering this emergent application, had I not traveled to two hot and poor countries this summer, Fiji and Kiribati.  While there, I witnessed the at times unfortunate state of living, which can be found in a shipping container.  In poor countries, there is frequently a “large surplus of unused shipping containers due to imports far outweighing exports. (1)”

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I agree that it is a good idea to utilize this seeming disaster proof container, that exists around the world in abundance and has an infrastructure setup to provide for transportation to almost anywhere.  It might seem that the places that innovations in shipping container architecture would be most useful are the places that this is a pre-existing condition, because that is where they have the most potential to be helpful.  What I saw, however, were not healthy living spaces – they were for the poorest of the poor.  It is sad to think of the handmade domiciles that are a testament to the resilience and abundance of surrounding resources, and tell a story of another’s wayof being, and that they are being replaced by these big metal boxes, by our ugly excess.  I’m not sure which is a better, or worse, idea.  I think, if we are to reuse this excess, we either have to do it in the US, because it is OUR waste, or make it a heck of a lot nicer before we ship it somewhere to become a less fortunate person’s home.

1) http://www.gizmag.com/seed-project-shipping-container-sustainable-emergency-housing/13902/

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