Discarded containers have been stacking up at ports. They are cheaper to build new than to return to their country of origin, so they have been piling up by the thousands.

Now a Detroit condo project hopes to put discarded containers to use.

The idea of putting people in empty shipping containers hardly evokes images of stylish urban living. But a Detroit-based group hopes to use empty shipping containers to build one of the most unusual — and certainly one of the most innovative — residential projects in southeast Michigan.

The project would stack empty containers four high, cut in windows and doors, install plumbing, stairways and heating, and add amenities such as balconies and landscaped patios.

If it wins city approvals, the 17-unit condominium project could break ground this fall and open near Wayne State University in 2009. Steven Flum, a Detroit-based architect who designed the project, said it solves several problems at once, including the need to build environmentally sensitive buildings cheaply. The project is going to cost about $1.8 million, about 25% less than a normal condo project of similar quality would run.

The partners plan to build their prototype on the southeast corner of Rosa Parks and Warren, on lots now vacant or containing burned-out homes. They call their project “Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks.”

The project will offer condominium units measuring 960 to 1,920 square feet. Prices will range from about $100,000 to around $190,000.

Container Living European Style

Inquiring minds may wish to check out Container City.

Containers are an extremely flexible method of construction, being both modular in shape, extremely strong structurally and readily available. Container Cities offer an alternative solution to traditional space provision. They are ideal for office and workspace, live-work and key-worker housing.

Container Cities do not even have to look like containers!

click chart for sharper image

click chart for sharper image

If “Container Cities do not even have to look like containers” than why do they all look like containers?

Five Things

Professor Kevin Depew was talking about Container housing in points 4 and 5 in today’s “Five Things“. Here is point 5.

There are several themes at play in today’s Five Things that we believe could potentially converge into a singular, overarching housing solution: Foreclosures and Economic Hardship, High Gasoline Prices, Diminishing SUV Demand, Self-Storage Units, Shipping Container Shortages, Emergency Modular Housing Units.

The answer? Stackable Modular Housing Units Built from Used SUV’s. I believe that one day in the not-so-distant future, the unwanted steel carcasses of four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles will be converted into stackable, modular low-income housing units. Think about it. They have nice seats, power windows, built in radio/cd players. Some things just make too much sense.

Thanks Kevin

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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