Yes, I am from a generation when technology virtually did not exist. I barely looked at my store-bought toys, making holidays and birthdays a nightmare for my parents. As a child, my preferred toys were empty boxes and bottles that were discarded in my home. I would play with them for hours upon hours, stacking them one on top of another. There is no doubt that there was a creative individual in the making and that I would end up studying architecture. Now, as an adult in the middle stages of life, I am equally intrigued and entertained by the emerging trend of building with shipping containers. I fear coming full circle and starting to play with my boxes again.
Shipping container homes and buildings have gained traction in the last 10 years as people search for an alternative to traditional building methods and look for recyclable, durable products. Depending on where you live and the weather in your location, these shipping containers can be assembled in configurations that will give you protection from the sun, wind and rain.
There are some limitations to shipping container homes. Many who look into these homes are also searching for smaller homes, alternative sources of power and a smaller carbon footprint. These homes are sometimes built as beach or mountain homes, where, because of their remote locations, they are not subject to conventional building codes or adherence to sewer hookups or power sources. So, many are off-grid.
However, there are many shipping container homes that are being built in existing neighborhoods. Some are accessory structures, such as a "granny pad" or an artist's studio, but others are built as the main home. Besides having to conform to all the building codes, there are the tectonics of services that have to be dealt with, as most have to be run on the outside of the container. The steel structure doesn't allow for the hollow spaces you have in the construction of typical walls.
Some may say they do not like the aesthetics of the shipping container, but I suggest those people hold off rushing to quick judgement. I have seen container homes where they have used the containers just as the structure and then tried to conceal the fact that they are containers by putting on stucco or brick veneer. These always fall short because you can still tell that the boxy components are there.
I suggest there are more benefits when embracing the container fully. There are so many ways to develop the design of shipping container homes. Once you free yourself from preconceived notions, the possibilities are endless. Granted, if you are looking for homes that conform to traditional expectations or styles of architecture, these types of homes are probably not the ones to choose.
Glass, wood and almost any other material resistant to the outdoors can be used to clad the outside of the containers or create connectors between containers. Although there is beauty in the single shipping container home, interesting architecture is possible when using more than one container. All it takes is thinking outside the box.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.