Are shipping containers the apartments of the future?

Housing affordability and environmental sustainability are two issues we hear a lot about in society today. A Danish architecture firm may have come up with a solution to both issues with its creative recycling of old steel shipping containers.

Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG) has ‘upcycled’ unsightly shipping containers to create a very cool stacked apartment complex called ‘Urban Rigger’. The ‘Urban Rigger’ is conveniently located in the centre of Copenhagen. It is made up of 9 shipping containers stacked up on a floating base, providing a total of 15 studio apartments as well as a multitude of communal areas. The roofs have a decked terrace area, solar panels which harvest energy, and a grassed area to relax or study in the sunshine. There is a barbecue area, a kayak landing, room for swimming, and a pontoon basement with storage and a communal laundry. Internally, the apartments feature modern, airy interiors with views of the harbour.




BIG designed the apartment complex due to a scary statistic: according to the Danish Construction and Housing Ministry, 24 000 university students studying in Denmark struggle to find a place to live, an issue that is compounded by around 64 000 new admissions to Copenhagen’s universities every year. Not only is there a lack of housing, the homes that are available are extremely expensive and the majority of students cannot afford them. These issues are not unique to Denmark. Could shipping containers be the housing solution of the future?

‘Urban Rigger’ is an apartment complex that any student (myself included!) would love to live in. The construction of the shipping container complexes like ‘Urban Rigger’ is quick, easy and cheap. Shipping containers are very transportable, and of uniform sizes, making shipping container apartment complexes a possibility all around the world. Typically, when a shipping container reaches the end of its lifecycle, they are either melted down for steel, or abandoned because the process is too costly. BIG has introduced a new concept of repurposing the containers, while also finding a solution for housing issues and environmental sustainability (the complex is carbon neutral!).

Instead of overdevelopment on land, the ‘Urban Rigger’ utilises “the Water Ways, the thousands of kilometres of untapped harbour, river and canal intensive cities of Europe” says the firm. The result is that the apartment block can be moved around, providing mobility never seen before with traditional land developments. The solar panels provide energy for the complex. The whole idea completely changes what we know about housing developments.

BIG is also looking into ‘upcycling’ of shipping containers into homes that could house refugees, victims of domestic abuse and the homeless.

So, would you live in a shipping container apartment complex?

To read more about this exciting housing revolution, click here.

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