Sustainable construction, including reuse,refurbishment, as well as recycling of materials, is highly popular and currently, dominating the real estatesector, the world over. Recycled and reclaimed material are increasingly being used in architecture to create stunning and efficient spaces. One such term is Cargotecture, which is a portmanteau of cargo containers and architecture. This innovative form of architecture is creating viable spaces where there were none. The transformation of weather resistant shipping containers into a home or a commercial space makes for cost-efficient spaces. Reusing is another beneficial aspect as the energy required for reuse is considerably lesser than what is required to make a new one or even for recycling it.
These sturdy containers are highly versatile and can be reshaped or adapted to make attractive commercial spaces in terrains where construction activities may take a lot of time and effort. Rocky terrain, beach etc are areas where these can be easily fitted to create vibrant spaces. For example, a stretch of disused beach along the Warta river in Poland underwent significant transformation with container bar, art display, lounge chairs and shipping pallets. The ease of installation made organising concerts and workshops here a breeze, making it a vibrant place where people couldrelax and socialize.
Similarly, in Tukwila, Washington-Starbucks has opened a new coffee shop that uses reclaimed shipping containers. The Drive-Thru Shop has been designed for LEED certification and is energy efficient and environment-friendly.
Another example of Cargotecture is Czech company KOMA’s Modular design store that is located in Germany. The space houses storage facility, offices and sales space in a compact building. This live/work space is flexible and can be moved to adapt to the users’ requirements. There are large windows on the ground floor showroom space that allows for natural lighting with terrace space on the upper floor.
Studio Mk27 has designed a retain space in Sao Paulo, Bazil that showcases the company’s products and has glass partitions opening on to the road.
While the cost and labour involved in making a space habitable is considerably lesser than in a typical construction, using cargo containers, is not limited to commercial and retail spaces. An artists’retreat ,a hotel space, homes, coffee shops, art galleries, recreational centres, all these and more, have also been designed and made functional using cargotecture.
But all is not smooth sailing-. While affordable, these were not originally created as habitable spaces, and requireextensive temperature control measures. Various measures such as insulations and provision of additional shade are employed to protect the space from getting heated or becoming exceptionally cold.. These spaces are also designed to make the most of renewable energy like solar paneling, rain-water harvesting etc. Also, being relatively new, compliance with region specific building codes may be a challenge, one needs to look out for.
That despite, energy efficient, environmentally friendly, tough and weather resistant – container spaces are gaining wider acceptance.