Reimagining Cargo

Green solutions and quick solutions are inherent factors to consider when building for the world today. Furthermore, much of modern architecture is concerned with the premise of making something unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, making something original. So how can this be accomplished? Look no further than ship yards, the source of all goods in this globalized, modern world. When reimagined, shipping containers, the key material in a commerce and trade society, provide ecofriendly, quick, low cost, abstract, and modular building solutions to the increasingly urbanizing world. With a bare base, there is a much room to grow upon when constructing with cargo containers, therefore allowing for much flexibility within usage — refuge shelters, food production, urban living, clinics, pop-up installations and energy generators are just a few (Saletta). As a building material, cargo containers are ingenious in that they can be used as-is, cut down to accommodate for different materials, built up and stacked to create additional space, and can be altered in most any way to fit the situation at hand — all while existing in surplus around the world. However, how green is this ‘ecofriendly’ solution? Keep in mind their primary use: to transport goods across lost distances overseas. Therefore, much of the coatings and floors of cargo containers contain harmful chemicals and pesticides, such as lead-based paints and phosphorous, to keep away pests and ensure the container lasts the entire overseas journey (Pagnotta). Costs and energy to eliminate chemicals in order to actually make the space inhabitable can be high. Additionally, the process of cleansing cargo containers can, in turn, actually produce more harmful waste than before (Pagnotta). So are these containers actually fulfilling their goal? Yes, they are forward-thinking and abstract, but does reimagined cargo actually help or hurt our world and society?

Sources:

Pagnotta, Brian. “The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture.” Arch Daily, 29 Aug. 2011, http://www.archdaily.com/160892/the-pros-and-cons-of-cargo-container-architecture. 9 Sept. 2016.

Saletta, Morgan. “The plug and play city: how shipping containers are changing infrastructure.” Architecture AU, 31 Aug. 2016, http://architectureau.com/articles/the-plug-and-play-city-how-shipping-containers-are-changing-infrastructure/. 9 Sept. 2016.

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