Rock in a Box With Arkitema Architects' Shipping Container Housing Project

©. Arkitema Architects

Using shipping containers for housing near a Danish rock music museum makes sense, sort of.

Denmark is a logical place to build with shipping containers; the world's largest shipping line, Maersk, is Danish and probably owns more containers than anyone else. Musicon, in Roskilde, is a logical place to build with them too. It is a "new neighborhood with a creative atmosphere" and has a rock museum called Ragnarock, and you know how musicians trash apartments. It's hard to trash a shipping container.

Beat box facade detail

© Arkitema Architects/ facade closeupThe logic kind of ends there. Shipping containers are designed to stack up to nine high loaded, sixteen high empty, corner casting on top of corner casting, but here they are plugged into a steel frame. "The steel frames also allow the architects to work in a more flexible way, despite the restriction that the containers hold." They are able to jog them in and out to make a more interesting façade and possibly be able to pull them out to move somewhere else, although that looks like a challenge. It also means that they have a lot of superfluous structure. From the architect's press release:

ground level

© Arkitema Architects

“Beat Box is a fun and challenging project. We are working within the very specific and set shapes of the container but are still able to transform them into something different and new. By preserving every container's exterior appearance, and placing them on the concrete base and the significant steel structures, we are providing Musicon with a whole new and authentic residential building. These apartments will match the simple and rough appearance of the area perfectly,” says Rolf Kjær, Head of Business Area at Arkitema Architects.
beat box detail at roof

© Arkitema Architects

The containers are "preserved to fit the atmosphere of the neighborhood, which means that all isolation will be internal." This means that every single shipping container has to be individually insulated on all floors, walls and ceilings, whereas in a conventional building, one would only insulate on the exterior of the entire project. A quick count finds that this will require 3.6 times as much insulation as a normal building or if they were insulated on the outside. But hey, "the solution offers a quick construction period which in unison with the material selection contributes to making sustainable housing in the containers."

beat box roof

© Arkitema Architects

“The apartment blocks will offer the residents anything they would expect of their apartment – thus a container is no different than regular housing. As architects, we are challenged by the fixed measurements of the containers but it also offers a lot of advantages, when we are building with them. The establishment of the buildings will happen much faster, which is why it will be a great alternative to conventional housing in the future. I am sure we will see a lot more container houses, both in Denmark and internationally, in years to come,” Rolf Kjær predicts

People keep saying that, but I suspect that one could order up a typical Scandinavian prefab more quickly, that it would be cheaper, and certainly more energy efficient. But it wouldn't look so cool.

Found on ArchDaily.