Containerized Housing

On a forum thread, Thorizan posted several interesting links to cargo container-based housing.

CNN: Recycled homes, one box at a time

Using containers to build homes has increasingly become a trend in the past several years because it can be cheaper and faster than using traditional construction methods. There are also plenty of containers at most major ports.

About 18 million containers are used worldwide to transport a variety of everyday products, such as cars, toys and food. Because the United States imports more than it exports, many containers end up stacked at ports.

SG Blocks, a company whose name stands for safe and green blocks, has made a business from the container overflow. Co-founder David Cross previously worked as a merchant marine and spent a lot of time at sea, dealing with shipping containers.

“As you’re looking down the deck of the vessel, you see hundreds to thousands of containers perfectly configured,” Cross said. “They were stacked nine high below deck, five or six high on deck, and I just kept seeing hotel after hotel on the deck of our ship.”

Cross also saw value in the strength of the material. “The containers are designed for hostile dynamic life at sea … capable of carrying 60,000 pounds. It just made imminent sense, that with minor modification, it could become a multi-family living system.” In 2003, Cross partnered with engineer Steve Armstrong to help bring the idea to fruition. A year later, Hazelton’s house was built in South Carolina.

According to Cross, modifying containers into homes uses significantly less energy than melting them down. “These containers weigh about 9,000 pounds, and it takes about 9,000 kilowatt hours of energy to melt down 9,000 pounds of steel,” Cross said. “We modify that existing piece of steel with approximately 400 kilowatt hours of energy input. [That’s a] 95 percent energy footprint reduction.”

Here is the page for SG Blocks, the company mentioned. bardamu also mentioned Containerhouse International, which builds and converts modular container-based homes.


2 thoughts on “Containerized Housing”

  1. On a somewhat related note, the military, oil companies, ocean explorers, etc., already use containers as offices, living quarters, etc.  They’re usually attached to the deck of a ship or oil platform.  So using containers as a basis for housing has precedents.  I don’t have references handy, but they should be searchable.

    Recent U.S. Navy ship designs, particularly littoral combat ships, include the ability to take swappable mission modules in the forms of containers with equipment specialized for particular missions.

    Also the Windward intentional community was considering using containers as/for ships and housing.

  2. I believe that the sizes are 8′ wide x 10′ high x variable length.  I assume they can be laid on their side and still be strong as this would make them much more usable for living quarters.


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