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Shipping container architecture is a form of architecture using steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as structural element. It is also referred to as cargotecture, a portmanteau of cargo with architecture. The use of containers as a building material has grown in popularity of the past several years due to their inherent strength, wide availability, and relatively low expense. Homes have also been built with containers because they are seen as more eco-friendly than traditional building materials such as brick and cement.
Containers are in many ways an ideal building material because they are strong, durable, stackable, cuttable, movable, modular, plentiful and relatively cheap. Architects as well as laypeople have used them to build many types of buildings such as homes, offices, apartments, schools, dormitories, artists' studios and emergency shelters; they have also been used as swimming pools. They are also used to provide temporary secure spaces on construction sites and other venues on an "as is" basis instead of building shelters.
Phillip C. Clark filed for a United States patent on November 23, 1987 described as "Method for converting one or more steel shipping containers into a habitable building at a building site and the product thereof". This patent was granted August 8, 1989 as patent 4854094. The patent documentation shows what are possibly the earliest recorded plans for constructing shipping container housing and shelters by laying out some very basic architectural concepts. Regardless, the patent may not have represented novel invention at its time of filing. Paul Sawyers previously described extensive shipping container buildings used on the set of the 1985 film Space Rage Breakout on Prison Planet.
Containers are an extremely flexible method of construction, being both modular in shape, extremely strong structurally and readily available. Containers offer a reasonably priced alternative solution to traditional space provision. They are ideal for office and workspace, live, work and worker housing. Container dwellings do not even have to look like containers! It is a relatively simple matter to completely clad the building externally in a huge variety of materials.
Finally the benefits of Container Homes or Cities can truly be seen in short and medium term land use projects. Short-life sites can have Container Houses that simply unbolts and can be relocated or stored when land is required for alternative uses. To date this alternative method of construction has successfully created youth centers, classrooms, office space, artists studios, live / work space and retail space.
All plans are drawn at ¼” scale or larger and include :
• Foundation Plan: Drawn to 1/4" scale, this page shows all necessary notations and dimensions including support columns, walls and excavated and unexcavated areas.
• Exterior Elevations: A blueprint picture of all four sides showing exterior materials and measurements.
• Floor Plan(s): Detailed plans, drawn to 1/4" scale for each level showing room dimensions, wall partitions, windows, etc. as well as the location of electrical outlets and switches.
• Cross Section: A vertical cutaway view of the house from roof to foundation showing details of framing, construction, flooring and roofing.
• Interior Elevations: Detailed drawings of kitchen cabinet elevations and other elements as required.
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