Sustainable design has come a long way since its rise to popularity under the present threat – and reality – of climate change.
This has led to a number of incredible technological advancements and the development of new tools that offer to create new and green forms of energy from solar panels to wind turbines. It has also brought about the ingraining of green design and building practices and an overall advancement in developments that lie on an environmentally responsible foundation.
While the technologically-driven futuristic designs are impressive, even if they often do not make it past the concept phase, long-term, feasible and realistic growth in the green building sector has been fueled by a back-to-basics approach.
The ease that comes with the ‘back to basics’ approach has brought about a new sector aptly known as shipping container architecture. Taking the high levels of embodied energy out of the building process, the use of recycled shipping containers as homes, restaurants and shopping spaces is a trend that is growing due to its ease and environmental responsibility.
While the shipping container architectural aesthetic is unique and can be highly flexible, it is the interior design possibilities it provides that have allowed these structures to become as popular as they are today.
At the cost of roughly $1,200 for a recycled unit, these structures are lightweight, incredibly hardy and have been used in a modular fashion to create some highly innovative and clever ways in order to create spaces that are modern, durable and generally perceived stylish in their uniqueness.
Examples of successful shipping container spaces includes the internationally acclaimed ‘Greenhouse’ by Joost, a pop-up restaurant by Australian environmentalist architect Joost Bakker, Pedro Scattarella’s pizzeria ‘Los Sopranos Restaurant’ in Barcelona and Google’s London office.
These are not small-scale projects; these are internationally recognised feats of design that have the positive attributes of longevity and sustainability on their side.
However, when creating a habitable interior space that meets building codes out of a highly industrialised product, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Thankfully, these are easily achievable and lend themselves to further green material implementation.
First and foremost, the removal of the container’s original flooring is priority, given the possibility of industrial contamination and the use of harmful sealants. For this reason, toxic original paints must also be stripped from the containers.
Finally, in steel containers, it is imperative that insulation be implemented. However, as Bakker demonstrates, this can be as simple and green as using straw as a highly efficient and low carbon insulator.
Shipping containers are simple, affordable and green. They have both hip pocket and environmental appeal in addition to clever stylings that makes them synonymous with 21st century trendiness.