Reading today’s Oz finds Mal Brough decrying the decision to use the ‘dongas”, surplus from the now closed woomera detention centre, to provide extra capacity in the nearly full centre on Christmas island, rather than as housing desperately needed for indigenousness communities as he had planned before the change of government. This brought back into focus an idea that I have had for some time and that is to use shipping containers to solve the indigenous housing problem.
Last week was the start of West Coast Green, a yearly conference on green building design and construction. There were lots of big names there like David Suzuki, Sarah Susanka, and Al Gore. Perhaps one of the most significant things to happen this year was the showing of the SG Blocks container house. Constructed of used Shipping containers, the house was erected on sight in just four hours and 47 minutes. In following with the theme of the conference, the home was thoroughly green throughout with FSC certified woods, solar panels etc. Besides the amazing rate at which the home was built, I was amazed at the stated per square foot price of $150, which includes “all the bells and whistles”. If that number is true, then this shipping container home is truly an amazing combination of aesthetics and affordability. I would love to see if the interior is as well designed as the exterior.
The problem for so many bureaucrats, activists and latte sippers is that they are just not capable of thinking outside the square to finding housing solutions that solve the problems at a reasonable cost. The illustrations above shows that housing made from shipping containers does not have to look second rate or makeshift. It can be stylish, practical and affordable but importantly you can create dwellings that are extremely durable that can be built up in modules to suit the needs of any size family or community.
Of course you can bet that what stops the use of surplus shipping containers as a starting point for the creation of some innovative housing solutions, is not their fitness for the purpose but a fear that this will be seen as a second rate housing option for our first Australians. The people who think like this are actually troglodytes who clearly know squat about architecture, design or building. The problem is not how can we afford to build Mc Mansions in the remote parts of the country but how do we house people who need housing . A real solution needs those in power to think outside the brick veneer paradigm go to a clean sheet of paper and consider lateral thinking options like this.
Oh and before anyone asks me the obvious question, I would be more than happy to build and live in a house made of shipping containers 🙂