Shipping Container Housing

Shipping Container Housing

I was contacted early this year by Eric Tangen, an extremely talented woodworker with whom I’ve worked with on several projects. Eric and his wife have been extremely involved in a number of projects with their church projects in Mexico and Africa.

The church is currently involved in helping to develop medical care facilities in the African country of Chad, which is located just south of Libya. The church has helped develop a compound of medical facilities and is in the process of creating housing for visiting medical staff. A local doctor, from Edmonds, WA, has travelled to the compound several times and is very involved in creating this housing.

Eric contacted me to help design this housing and asked me “What are your thoughts about making the housing from shipping containers”? I’d seen a number of projects built from shipping containers – some interesting and some not. My first thought was “Housing in a shipping container in the hot African sun? Man, that’s going to be hot!” As I looked into the possibilities, I warmed up (pun intended) to the idea and began researching the concept.

The idea was to use the shipping containers to send whatever construction materials and supplies that weren’t available locally in these shipping containers and to then use the containers as housing, installed on foundations built by local construction crews.

My thoughts and concerns were:

1)     The incredible heat – how can we make a metal box livable in that environment? How can we make the space as cool as possible?

2)     Would the residents accept the idea of living in shipping containers and how could I make them visually appealing with the other buildings in the compound?

3)     How could I make the interiors inviting, functional, and not feel like the inside of a shipping container? Living in an 8’ wide by 40’ long space would seem like “tunnel vision” to me.

Eric and I began looking at options, received valuable input from the doctor, and we began to create a design that responded to our concerns and our goals for the project.

My next blog post will show how we propose to deal with these concerns and I’ll show floor plans of the space.

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