Monday, June 11, 2018

Trade Down? Use Shipping Containers for Housing

I remember watching an episode of Seinfeld where the character Kramer decided to live in a shipping container to cut down on living expenses. It seemed like a funny idea at the time, but some people are actually ingenious enough to make this idea more plausible and actually desirable. Not only does it make good use of shipping containers as international trade is going to the dogs, but it's also environmentally friendly in the sense of recycling old discarded containers for livable housing. But first, let's get to declines in container trade. We start in the US of A via Portworld:

The top 10 US box ports registered their 19th-straight [year-on-year] decline in monthly box volumes in February, a clear indication of slowing economic growth. The statistics, from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and IHS Global Insight monthly Port Tracker report, cover total box volumes handled at key US box ports in California, Texas, Washington, New York/New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina. The report pegged February throughput at one million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), 17.7% down from throughput for the same month last year.
And if shipping is down at the receiving end, it must also be down at the sending end:
The volume of containers handled in Chinese ports in February fell 17% year-on-year as the country's export sector slowed, reports said. Last month, box volumes amounted to 6.97 million TEUs, representing a 22.5% fall from January's 8.99 million TEUs. Collapsing consumer demand in the US and Europe has hit the Asian export markets.
So if container ports aren't busy, a lot of containers are being left unused. That's where these two recent features come in. By coincidence (or not), both tout twelve innovative designs, although there is some overlap. The earlier one comes care of TreeHugger, and here is a sample conversion of what appears to be a single twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU):

There are also projects using multiple containers in "Crate Expectations." More recently, Yahoo! has gotten into the act. Here is another installation from Bangkok, Thailand featuring not just one but four containers:

Good stuff--stylish yet environmentally-friendly is the way to go in a time of declining trade. If economic slowdown gives you containers, make container homes ;-)

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