Shipping Container Project: Construction Pt1

Our company has been working on a customer retreat project for a while now. When we first started conceptualizing this building we wanted to showcase the green technologies our company is developing. The building will be retrofitted with a green roof, vertical garden, solar panels and will catch/use rain water to lesson it’s intake from the local water source. We are also hoping to clean the building’s gray water (sewage) through a series of nearby wetland pools but this system is still being developed. When it came to actually designing the building we decided to use shipping containers for most of basic structure this would not only recycle those materials but also latch hold of a trendy theme in the architectural community.

Design work began almost immediately after we had our conceptual meeting with the design team but problems started coming up almost right away. In the first few weeks here are a few of the issues that came up. What size Shipping Containers would we use (there are a huge variety)? How do we overcome the narrow confines the containers? Shipping containers are strong and have great stackable structures, but when you start cutting our windows and doors you lose a lot of structural integrity, we needed to work around that. This list goes on and on… in fact the more we worked on the design the more problems came to light (but that is what design is all about). You can read an earlier post about his design here.

Just a few weeks after starting the initial design process and without a final design (not even close to finished) the investor gave us the nod, nudge, and wink wink saying “let’s make it happen”. The design team was ecstatic, as was I. For me, this marked a huge leap forward in my status (self image) as an architect and a designer. This would be the first building that I designed that would actually be built. That being said, I can not take credit for the whole of this building. Once the conceptual stage had passed, most of the design work was taken on by the design team. Specifically Saule Kemelova (the other architect in our office) who has been spearheading construction drawings and sketches.

So, for the last 4 months we have been frantically going over design diagrams, CAD drawings, and construction sketches, building up the plethora of documents and images need to build our building. Then came the day, foundations were poured and dry… and the shipping containers where delivered, all 9 of them. Here are some pictures of the big day.




I have lived and worked in China for over 10 years but the speed of construction still amazes me. Less than four months from conceptualization to building. Electrical and plumbing diagrams are still not finished and yet the builders are pushing forward, driven by the investor. It has been a blurry haze of design work at our office but it has all been worth it. I am sure there will be more to tell as this story unfolds but for now I am simply going to bask in the wonders of having a design actually being built!


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