“It’s not because of Climate Change. It’s because I’ve never been able to leave food on my plate.” This is the motto of sustainable housing design firm Infiniski, whose dwellings are up to 80-percent comprised of reused, recycled and non-polluting materials. Among them are, you guessed it, shipping containers, but also railway tracks, forklift paletts and even old bottles. Though each house is tailored to the needs of the client, the one thing they have in common – in spite of the eye-catching design – is surprising affordability.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Infiniski is that, unlike other shipping container houses, its developed an adaptable process rather than a one-off design…”Depending on the project, Infiniski will use prefabricated steel modules, re-used maritime containers and/or wooden prefab modules,” which can be deployed to construct anything from family homes and residential blocks to hotels or offices.
The project pictured above is the Manifesto House built in 2009 over a period of 90 days in Curacaví, Chile. The 1700-sq ft house is built primarily from three reused shipping containers. The container at ground floor has been split and separated, with the containers on the upper level bridging the gap. By enclosing the resultant gap with thermally-efficient glass panels, the floor area is achieved despite using containers with a collective footprint of 970 sq ft…
…The house’s thermal performance is improved with the use of adjustable wooden solar shading made of wood from sustainable forest sources on one side, and making novel use of forklift pallets on the other. The idea here is that the pallets will open in winter allowing direct solar radiation on the container’s metal surfaces, providing a natural source of heating within. In summer they close to insulate the house from the unwanted source of heat.
This works well at Santa Fe’s latitude. There’s a shading structure using movable planks at Ghost Ranch.
Infiniski tells us the total cost of the project…was $105,000. It further claims that due to the “alternative energy systems” (presumably the natural heating and lighting systems) employed at the house, it’s 70-percent autonomous.
Built over six months in 2010, the Infiniski-designed Casa El Tiemblo in Avila, Spain, is a larger house 2050 sq ft in area. The house makes use of four shipping containers arranged in an L-formation with future extensions in mind. This house is also naturally heated, but complemented with a biomass boiler. In summer, the house exploits deciduous climbing plants shade rather than wooden shades. Its total cost was $186,000.
I get a small chuckle over “biomass”. The sawmill that supplies our home with slab waste just finished building a big addition to chip all waste into “biomass” to supply a couple of power generation plants in the eastern part of the state. I hope they continue to keep a few “spools” of slabs around for folks like us who also heat their homes with “biomass”.
Regular readers know I’m a big fan of reusing shipping containers. Even though the trade balance between the US and China has diminished significantly I doubt if our politicians will ever have the smarts to do a thorough job of rebuilding the export segment of our economy. So, shipping containers will continue to accumulate on our shores.