Lloyd may have questioned some of the thinking behind the shipping container architecture fad, but as with most things in the world of sustainability and design—there is nothing inherently right or wrong about shipping containers in architecture. It's just how you use them and what you use them for.
When portability, robustness and the need for fast scalability are priorities, shipping containers may be hard to beat - especially when they are recycled. That's why we loved this solar-powered internet hub for rural Africa. And it's also why I was intrigued by a report in Nigeria-based newspaper The Nation about a start-up offering solar powered shipping container shelters for various applications:
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos, officials of the company including Dimeji Bassir and Abiola Iyiola explained that SPACE is a secure and robust portable building fabricated from recycled, high cube shipping containers and equipped with solar power generating capability. The photovoltaic panels on the top of the SPACE unit, Bassir said, are capable of generating up to 3.5kW of solar power.
“This energy is stored in the in-built array of battery backup that can last for up to five days if used in a conservative manner,” he said. In case of unfriendly weather, he said the batteries could be charged with generators.
The SPACE (Solar Powered Adaptive Container for Everyone) website suggests the units, which come with an air conditioner as standard, can be used as disaster relief centers; triage spaces; educational centers; parks and recreational buildings; construction site offices; security kiosks and sales and marketing offices. And the company founders told The Nation that a whole host of added features are available on request including pipe decking, guardrails, stair or ramp, custom interior millwork, custom flooring signage, exterior lighting, wireless Internet access, and even an electric incinerating toilet.