Monday, November 23, 2009

An idea whose time keeps coming, and coming

This spring the Volvo Round the World maxi boat race sailed into Boston harbor. Their arrival was preceded by the Puma pop up store that was erected on the pier in a day.

Thousands of us clambered aboard, bought gear, partied, and became impressed with the possibilities of container architecture.

I had seen "Positions"the art installation village consisting of "galleries" assembled from around the world and then transported in containers, lined up along the beach, and forming an instant art's district on Miami Beach, but this project moved the possibility from art to reality.

LOT-EK has been experimenting with containers for some time. An earlier example of a project was their

container home.

Bob Vila's web site featured a story on home creation utilizing containers and concluded: "Perhaps the biggest barrier to increased production of container homes is the stigma that is attached to the ugly metal boxes left abandoned in urban shipping yards. Transformative thinking and a willingness to move outside of the box can bring this technology to the forefront of urban planning agendas everywhere."
Text by Mark Fuller

A Seattle based architecture firm Hybrid Seattle coined the term "cargotecture" to describe their development and their first structure has landed.
I also know that when talking to the principals of the firm they are at work on an infill concept that is so smart it is a wonder that it hasn't been implemented yet. They view dorment development plots, builders waiting for financing might be a reason for a plot to lay fallow, as sites for temporary villages of container homes. The portability of the containers would allow them to have a temporary location until such time as the underlying project was green lighted, and then would move to the next site. A much better use than surface parking or weed patches.

The AIA, and the City of Newark sponsored a world wide competition for a container based development for their city. The results are amazing.

The beat goes on. LOT-EK won a competition to build a new shopping mall on a NYC pier, an Italian firm built a jewel box and slowly the concept is winning acceptance. It is important to take away the reality that zoning and planning board rules that might inhibit creative housing solutions are responsive to political will. If you have the will, there is a way.

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