Believe it or not, shipping containers make the world go round. From China to The Netherlands and USA to South Africa, goods need to be imported, exported, and in all cases, transported. Vehicles, electrical goods, furniture, and everything in between will be shipped between continents in these recognisable steel containers, aboard vast vessels that travel the world’s most dangerous oceans.
They’re clearly very hardy boxes being able to withstand the aggressive waves and winds of the high seas. If that’s the case, surely they would prove adequate shelter for a lowly human. Particularly for the United Kingdom, where there is a critical housing shortage, shipping containers, are increasingly being considered as the answer to our government’s woes on this matter.
The benefits of a shipping container as a home:
Shipping containers are extremely solid and resistant structures, designed specifically to keep their contents safe and secure in adverse weather conditions. Put simply, if a container can survive hurtling over the South China Sea at a rate of knots (quite literally) it can cope with a drizzly November afternoon in London. Therefore, as well as being initially protective from the elements, they are durable and long-lasting structures.
Moreover, recycling and repurposing shipping containers is a sustainable way to build, utilising existing material and adapting the space to fit what’s needed: It is the perfect blank canvas upon which to work. They too are financially viable, working out much cheaper than constructing a similarly-sized space from scratch with the same sturdy materials. For example you can purchase a container for around £1000 – of you compare that to a building of the same size the savings are huge.
The challenges of using shipping containers:
Whilst they can sure take a battering, they are not fundamentally designed to keep the heat in or the cold out. Spray-on insulation inside, and insulation paint on the exterior will ensure your space has a regulated temperature, providing you have the electricity power to heat or cool as necessary. Containers rarely have windows, so whether you’re using it for a living area, commercial building or site office, you will need to install window frames and, at the least, double glazing glass. In addition, you’ll probably want to incorporate some more user-friendly doors.
Can they be made homely?
With enough care and attention, a shipping container can be made into a wonderful living space. Although space is limited, combining two or more containers in innovative and imaginative ways can allow for more than ample room for manoeuvre – You only have to cast your mind back to the recent Homebase advert for inspiration here! If you tackle the aforementioned insulation issue, there’s no reason why it can’t be a cosy space in which to relax. Plumbing and electrics must also be considered during the design process, so that you can enjoy heating, lighting, and electrical devices.
Examples of shipping container success:
In Amsterdam, shipping containers have been used to house the city’s student population since 2006, and are still being inhabited today. The same happened in Berlin, Germany. In both cases, whole communities of around 1000 shipping container homes were created, and proved to be extremely popular among local residents. These container villages have also been used to house refugees and asylum seekers.
In Brighton, they have been used to temporarily shelter the local homeless and vulnerable people. Much like the rest of England, the town has soaring house prices, expensive rents, and a relatively low average wage. Shipping containers have been used as a fast short-term answer to this problem, but may yet prove to play more of a long-term role as in Amsterdam and other European cities. The world is catching on to the possibilities of creating genuinely affordable and high quality housing from the most simple of steel structures.
Whilst the UK housing shortage cannot be met solely with an increase in shipping container homes, we believe that this approach could make a much-welcomed dent. It would be a missed opportunity, both in terms of getting young people on the housing ladder, and in sheltering the most vulnerable in society. More needs to be done, but converted shipping containers is certainly one avenue to explore further.
We have vast experience in the supply of ISO shipping containers for shipping, storage, and site cabins, as well as for residential and commercial buildings. We’re the UK’s favourite supplier, offering nationwide delivery and exceptional customer service throughout. We’re part of Williams Shipping Holdings Ltd, a highly reputable family-run company that was founded in 1894.
If you would like to know more about the containers we supply across the country, get in touch with Willbox today. You can call us on 0845 263 0000 or contact us online for more information.