Arizonans find homes in shipping containers In this Wednesday, March 16, 2016, photo, Patrick Tupas arrives at his shipping container apartment unit after work where he, his wife and dog live, in Phoenix. In the Containers on Grand project, the apartments are designed in a way that retains the corrugated metal exteriors. Each unit is made of two containers, but inside there are no signs of the cargo hauling days. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Arizonans find homes in shipping containers
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A stack of shipping containers sitting in a lot in an industrial section of Phoenix has some developers thinking inside the box.
 
The structures usually used to transport cargo have been transformed into eight apartments. Scuff marks, old serial numbers and shipping company logos remain, but a look inside each unit reveals a 740-square-foot modern home.
 
"It doesn't even feel like a shipping container. It's also insulated really well," said Patrick Tupas, who is in the Air Force and along with his wife signed a one-year lease for $1,000 a month. "It just feels like a regular apartment."
 
There was a downside, he said. Passers-by ask questions and sometimes press to see inside their home.
 
Housing and retail projects using the containers have popped up in recent years in Las Vegas, Detroit and Washington as developers and cities try to cater to millennials and baby boomers who want to live closer to the cultural offerings in urban hubs.
 
To meet those needs, "cargotecture" has become a quick way to fill urban housing gaps.
 
"They are faster, cheaper and now potentially have much more of an aesthetic range," said Dana Cuff, director of cityLAB, a think tank at UCLA that looks at architecture and urban growth. Some mask their shipping origins, but the ones in Phoenix don't, she said.
 
"They're celebrating them," Cuff said.
 
In the Containers on Grand project in Phoenix, the architecture firm, StarkJames, designed the apartments in a way that retained the corrugated metal exteriors. Each unit is made of two containers, but inside there are no signs of the cargo hauling days.
 
The walls are painted white, the original wood flooring is encased in epoxy and there is enough space for a bedroom and living area.
 
The two rooms are connected by two separate hallways. One hallway has the kitchen, oven and some counter space, while the other has closet space and a nook. There is also a washer and dryer unit. Monthly rent averages about $1,000.
 
All but two of the eight units are occupied. One is being marketed as a vacation rental.
 
In Washington's Brookland neighborhood, university students and young professionals have been living in a four-story housing cluster since September 2014. In Las Vegas, containers make up the building blocks of a downtown retail complex.
 
In Detroit, Three Squared Construction is working on $14 million in new projects involving shipping containers because they save time. The company erected the city's first residential shipping-container development in April 2015.
 
The three-story building is used as a showcase with the top floor periodically rented out and CEO Leslie Horn said there's been a high demand among millennials and "empty-nesters."
 
With containers, they only save about 5 percent in lumber costs but even more in terms of time spent.
 
"You're saving a lot of time by getting it done faster," Horn said.
 
StarkJames, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is on track to build 12 more container homes in downtown Phoenix that will be stacked three-stories high, and despite the progress, they still get ribbing from others in the industry.
 
"We work with a lot of other developers," architect Brian Stark said. "They always ask 'How are the garbage can homes going?'"
 
But the firm is taking the teasing in stride, and its downtown development will be called The Oscar after Oscar the Grouch, whose trash can makes him the only container-dweller on "Sesame Street."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do shipping containers make good homes?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (10)
  • oliviaw-4-bar
    5/18/2016 - 09:57 p.m.

    These shipping containers make for affordable, economic, and aesthetically appealing homes. This is mainly due to the fact that the architects and construction workers need not worry about framing, plastering, and insulating walls, floors, and roofs of homes. Additionally, discarded shipping containers are inexpensive--if not free--for the builders to attain. Once the architects have access to the shipping containers, their project is reduced to simply furnishing the interior, and transforming the former shipping device into a suitable living space. The appeal of these innovative home is evident in a recent Detroit Architecture plan. A company called "Three Squared Construction is working on $14 million in new projects involving shipping containers because they save time." I found this article to be especially intriguing after having read a novel recommended to me by a former teacher titled, "Ready, Player One" in which the main character resided in a post-apocalyptic world inside an apartment constructed from salvaged shipping containers. Given that I am not usually given the opportunity to witness concepts I have seen in science fiction novels come into reality, I was excited when I saw the title of this particular article. I also think the concept of constructing homes from reusable materials is an ingenious one.

  • erino-6-bar
    5/19/2016 - 11:42 p.m.

    Shipping containers can be used to make good homes because of how little time it takes in comparison to a typical wooden house. In addition to being a good way to fill in urban gaps and use discarded materials, they are "faster, cheaper and now potentially have much more of an aesthetic range." Despite some critics who call them garbage can homes, the majority is in support of this new trend and many like the look of these houses.

    I thought that this was a very smart way to use old materials and provide homes for people who cannot afford a typical apartment or house.

  • holdeno-3-bar
    5/20/2016 - 12:21 p.m.

    Shipping containers make good homes because they provide sufficient living amenities at an efficient cost. As Dana Cuff talked about shipping containers, he said that "they are faster [to build], cheaper, and now potentially have more of an aesthetic range" (par. 7) Shipping containers are ready to use, as they are being repurposed as opposed to being built from scratch. They are easy to insulate and outfit with living fixtures. So, they can make great living space without as much effort or money.

  • holdeno-3-bar
    5/20/2016 - 12:25 p.m.

    Part 2 of previous comment:
    I could relate to this article because I know people who are planning to build a shipping container home.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    5/23/2016 - 01:23 p.m.

    It would be so neat to live in something so unusual. One item on my bucket list is to live in a house under the ocean.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    5/24/2016 - 01:34 p.m.

    I think that them living inside shipping containers is so cool because it is like the show tiny house, big living. However, of course people are going to want to look inside.

  • toddg-edg
    6/20/2016 - 01:57 p.m.

    I wonder if the prices for these apartments/homes will ever rise at a high rate. How many people actually live in these places?

  • alexb1-edg
    6/20/2016 - 02:10 p.m.

    Shipping containers make good homes because they provide sufficient living amenities at an efficient cost. As Dana Cuff talked about shipping containers, he said that "they are faster [to build], cheaper, and now potentially have more of an aesthetic range" (par. 7) Shipping containers are ready to use, as they are being repurposed as opposed to being built from scratch. They are easy to insulate and outfit with living fixtures. So, they can make great living space without as much effort or money.

  • alexandriap-edg
    6/27/2016 - 01:17 p.m.

    shipping container make good home because their cheap and faster to create into homes vs building a home from scratch with take a very very long time their already built so that takes off a lot of time and money

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/31/2016 - 12:20 a.m.

    Shipping containers make good homes because they can be built quickly. While some firms believe shipping container homes are a joke, the public has an obvious interest in them. Living in a shipping container home could be pretty cool. They have a modern look and, in a way, promote cleaner living by reusing something that might otherwise go to waste.

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