The renewal of Christchurch New Zealand, after a devastating earthquake, took a giant leap with the opening of a pedestrian shopping mall made from shipping containers. The brightly colored boxes held 27 stores as part of the City Mall ReSTART project.
The initial success was overwhelming, as residents and tourists alike found the area to have some serious eco-style. The mall also offered a bit of normalcy to residents just recently inundated by the daunting task of finding new homes and rebuilding a city.
Christchurch had lost a lot of infrastructure, in addition to 166 lives lost in the February 22nd earthquake. The town was looking for novel designs to help the city bounce back, like that of Shigura Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral. The shipping container mall was one of the city’s most striking features of renewal.
Featuring mostly locally-owned stores that had been a part of the community for years; the development took only months to put together, but still had a sense of thoughtful design, as well as bright open spaces with interesting gathering areas to linger on warm spring weekends.
The ReSTART container mall closed on Sunday, April 30th of this year. Since its opening in October of 2011, the temporary solution became an internationally famous icon and symbol of post-quake Christchurch innovation that lasted five-and-a-half-years.
Yet the trend doesn’t stop here. Shopping malls featuring shipping containers are going up all over the US including New York, Las Vegas and Kapaa Hawaii. There is even talk of a container development going up in our hometown here in Waco! For more container news, stay tuned.
Think you’ve heard all the ways that a shipping container can be repurposed?
Well think again. This year, in Abu Dhabi, in a city-wide effort to promote public transportation usage, the Department of Transportation has approved construction for 100 air-conditioned bus shelters. 30 are already in use and 20 of them are recycled shipping containers.
All the new units will have a refreshed design with geometric patterns, outdoor shading and seats, bus timetables, bins for regular and recyclable waste, a QR (quick response) code panel that enables connection to bus routs and top-up machines for hafilat cards.
“The idea is to improve the quality of the public transport service,” said Ahmed Al Mazrouei advisor to the chairman of the department.
The government also believes that encouraging people to use the public services will help with traffic congestion problems the city has been facing on a massive scale.
The news has come as a relief to hard-pressed users of public transport. Concerns have recently been raised about the lack of shelters in many areas and the fact that the air-conditioning systems often break in the summer heat. This move comes partly in response to that, but also as part of a broader plan to upgrade the system.
Some of the bus shelters reflect the identity of their neighborhoods. For example, a new unit near Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has been painted white to mirror the famous place of worship. The new units have also dispensed with the large advertising sign common on the top of old shelters and instead have ads down the sides.
“The project reflects the aspirations of the leadership to establish a modern transport infrastructure and a sustainable living environment in the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” said Mr. Al Mazrouei.
Why use shipping containers for the bus shelters? The containers have been selected due to their high capacity and fast installation, especially in the city’s high demand areas. And they also have an added value reflected by their comparably low cost of entry.
Innovation in the way of shipping architecture is just getting started! What are some other interesting ways we can use shipping containers to revolutionize our lives? Leave your ideas in the comments!
Looking to invest in a CargoHome, but not sure if your state or local zoning board will approve?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any clear-cut system for building a container home in the United States. However, there are some things to consider before you dive head first into building a container home.
First off, for those new to building any type of home, a building code is a set of rules, or minimum standards that every building must meet or exceed in order to receive an occupancy permit. Its important, though not to confuse building codes and zoning, as they are two separate things. Zoning regulations state where a house can be built and help keep similar buildings near each other.
On the surface, it may seem that a container home is more structurally sound than a traditional manufactured home (ie: trailer home). The corner posts are heavier than a manufactured house, it can withstand a greater load and is all steel construction as opposed to wood or aluminum 2×4’s. However, building inspectors really aren’t familiar with this type of construction, and the neighbors might object to anything different in fear that it may affect their property value.
First, communicate with the local authorities about your plans, explain the designs and benefits, and bring examples of other container homes especially if they’re in your area, can greatly affect your plans getting a positive reaction. Along with shipping container homes, research other types of “non-traditional” building such as earthships or ferro-cement domes. Even though these types of building aren’t the norm, they are becoming more and more accepted in many areas.
Second, research areas that are friendlier to alternative type buildings. If the area is a little more remote, there might be a better chance of having your designs accepted and ultimately approved. Just note that if you’re trying to receive permitting in New York City, you might find more trouble than applying in Waco Texas. You can also begin your research by looking for areas with no building codes or zoning regulations. They’re getting fewer and further between, but they do exist.
Finally, while there aren’t any set rules concerning shipping container homes, all electrical, plumbing and mechanical on the CargoHome is done to code under licensed tradesmen.
CargoHome manufactures container-based structures using our own code-compliant shipping container modules. ESR 4163 confirms that the containers we use in structures meet the strict inspection, quality and known material requirements set by the international Code Council. But that’s a topic for another blog article. Stay tuned!