Sustainability
15.05.2019 //
Text:
Kari Martiala

Containers for all purposes

It has become increasingly common to see shipping containers put to use as temporary facilities, offices, schools and even homes on various types of construction site. In the United States, containers have been used on various types of construction site since the 1970s.

In many ways, shipping containers make ideal construction materials: they are strong, durable, stackable, cuttable, portable, modular and relatively cheap. Steel containers are also considered more environmentally friendly than conventional construction materials such as cement and brick. When containers are used for construction, an enormous amount of steel enters re-use.

This type of construction is known as shipping container architecture or cargotecture. Architects are eager to use containers to design buildings of many types, including homes, summer houses, offices and temporary facilities. 

Residential cargotecture remains rare in Finland but shipping containers are fashionable on various types of building sites abroad. Back in the 1980s, a method for “converting steel shipping containers into a habitable building” was patented in the United States.

Shipping containers are a potential solution for use in disaster zones. They are suitable for the extreme weather conditions that prevail in the aftermath of a tornado, hurricane or tsunami.

Containers must be thoroughly cleaned before they are used for construction. The internal surfaces should be sandblasted until they are bare and repainted with non-toxic paint. 

There are plenty of containers available for various uses: there are an estimated 24 million decommissioned shipping containers in the world.