"…It’s not hard to see the appeal. Shipping containers look exactly like building blocks, which is the primary medium (other than dirt) that most architects started working with. You can buy used ones for about $1,600 a pop, which seems like a steal for housing. Doing that also feels very environmentally conscious, because you’re taking something that already exists and reusing it for a different purpose. For these reasons, architects in particular are drawn to the idea of using shipping containers as housing for poor people — as is the case with this plan for a skyscraper made of them, which just won a design competition for low-income housing in Mumbai.
There’s just one problem: Shipping containers turn out to be a uniquely poor building block for human shelter. Mark Hogan, a San Francisco architect who has worked with shipping containers in the past, just wrote a succinct manifesto about why you should really, really not use shipping containers for housing.
For one thing: A building made of corrugated steel is going to be a miserable residence, especially in a place as hot as Mumbai. You could add insulation and a ventilation system — but that would make a box that already has awkwardly low ceilings even smaller. You could add windows — but that would require cutting through steel walls, which takes specialized equipment, and a contractor who knows how to use that equipment.…"
Sent in by John Michael Linck