My recent posts on plastic bottle houses, Morgan State’s Light Box shipping container project and Dickinson University’s Treehouse dorm motivated one reader to tell me I was all wet.
It seems that when it comes to alternative (read sustainable) housing, a Dutch company named Tempohousing is king of the hill.
According to the company’s website, the city of Amsterdam urgently needed dorms to house its student population. Any solution had to be mobile, affordable and quick. Tempohousing had just the thing.
To make a long story short, Tempohousing established a factory in China where it prefabricated housing units (dorm rooms) inside standard shipping containers. At the height of production, Tempohousing was cranking out 50 new dorm rooms a week.
Because the housing units were built in standard, 40-foot containers, they could be shipped as standard freight all over the world via any vessel, truck or train. The completed container homes—including interiors—arrived in Amsterdam ready to be stacked like Lego blocks.
No one in Holland had lived in a shipping container before, so hearts had to be won at first. Initial fears that container homes would be too small, noisy, cold or hot all proved unwarranted. Students soon found the dorms to be spacious, quiet, well insulated and a better value than other student housing in the city. By the middle of 2006, more than 1,000 dorm rooms were in place and occupied, making a section of Amsterdam the largest container city in the world.
Today, Tempohousing has offices in The Netherlands, China, Australia and Nigeria, and is building with new containers from the Chinese factory as well as used containers salvaged from ports around the world. A 20-foot container yields 170 square feet and a 40-foot container yields 340 square feet of interior space. The company regularly combines multiple containers to make larger spaces, and most structures have exterior balconies.
In addition to the dorm project, Tempohousing has used containers to build homes, hotels, retail space, and many other structures.
According to a Tempohousing marketing brochure, there are more people on this planet without a safe and a proper home than people with one, and Tempohousing is focused on doing something about it.
If the prospect of building with shipping containers excites you, you may be in luck. Tempohousing is looking for new partners in various countries. For more information, email Tempohousing.
This article first appeared on www.GreenBusinessMatters.com