When classroom space was becoming limited at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, representatives from the school looked to MB Architecture for a fast, effective fix. By utilizing prefabricated structures based out of 4 retrofitted shipping containers, the architects were able to design and deliver just that.
“The budget required that we explore options beyond conventional construction,” said MB architects. The project arose out of a grant of only $100,000 and was prefabricated, delivered and installed in half a day at a cost of slightly over $200,00. What’s more, is the structure was fully operational just a few days later!
The design stems from MB Architecture’s prototype prefabricated Insta House – a two story home (also based out of 4 modified containers) with a bedroom upstairs and a main living area on the ground floor, built in the Hamptons in 2009.
The new Media Lab on the middle of campus exemplifies the speed and efficiency of prefab cargotecture. Built double wide and double tall, the boxy two-floor building offers 960 square feet of adaptable meeting spaces and performance areas for the Department of Experimental Humanities.
Following assembly, the team, directed by lead architect Maziar Behrooz, added trim boards between the upper and lower floors and connected the electrical and plumbing lines to the site utilities.
The architects expressed the multiple functions of the Media Lab through designing flexible and open-plan spaces that cater to meetings, lectures, workshops, performances and more. A glazed garage-style door swings up to open the double-height main room to the quad, while also creating a stage for concerts and theatrical events.
Large windows and doors were installed to allow-in copious amounts of natural light while also framing campus views.
While reconfigurable furniture includes chair seating for up to 16 people, the stairs can also be used as auditorium-like seating for lectures. The downstairs space of the Media Lab is open for reservations to the Bard community, and offers a variety of products, including sound recording equipment and a television.
Bard’s example of urgent space requirements only goes a little way to exemplify the many uses of shipping container construction. Since the installation of the Media Lab, other universities have considered the container route for educational spaces as well as student housing. The possibilities are endless.
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