I’ll concede that shipping container housing can be cool. I write this because I took a bit of flack on my previous piece about shipping containers. I wanted to take some time to offer some rebuttals (and a correction - that correction being that I wrongfully labeled the Detroit project as affordable housing. It isn’t. It is market rate. It was a mistake).
I used Tornado Towers as my storyline. I wish I was a better writer and maybe then I could have given a more passionate argument against shipping container housing by bringing it all together. Needless to say, I can’t fault people for commenting on that aspect of the piece.
For the record – I was not arguing against providing affordable housing, I was advocating that it should be quality housing and that we should not “experiment on the poor” like we’ve done so many times in the arena of public housing (e.g.: no more towers in the park). People in need of affordable housing aren’t looking for high-design.
For the most part, shipping container housing has been a luxury for the wealthy. There are more examples of second-homes on the beach/ in the woods than that of a primary residence. It appears to be a burgeoning architectural trend under the label of sustainability.
Before I go any further, I want to concede that there are definitely situations where shipping containers may be useful – such as temporary housing in areas affected by disasters. I have also been informed that they work well in desert climates as military housing on bases. These are fine uses for shipping containers. My main complaint is that, for affordable housing or otherwise, they will ultimately fail and become eyesores.
Here’s the brief rundown on why we should be skeptical of shipping container housing …
Shipping container housing, minus the re-use element, as a means of urban development is a “same stuff, different day” scenario (e.g.: Tornado Towers). It failed in the past and will surely fail again in the future.