Unfolding Furniture #3

A lot of people don’t understand how a shipping container can be lived in.  They look at the narrow proportions of the container and compare it to the rooms that they currently inhabit in their suburban homes.  But the truth is – we can live in smaller spaces while still having the same amount of amenities.  As you have seen through our blog posts of a dynamic Chinese apartment and a custom mobile home – it is more about being creative with the space you have then it is about having a lot of space.

A great example of this philosophy comes to us from Resource Furniture, based out of New York.  They have worked with a talented group of furniture designers, mechanical engineers, and hardware companies to create a line of space saving furniture that is beautiful in both function and aesthetics… a perfect compliment to an IMD container home!


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Introducing Unit 0322

For a while now, we at InterModal Design have been working on a form of relief housing which would not only address short term issues, but also provide a plan for stabile long term growth.  Unit 0322 came about following the earthquake disaster in Chile, in which many lower and middle class homes were destroyed by a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake.  We were contacted to produce a formal proposal which would provide relief housing on a massive scale in a very short period of time.  Shipping containers seemed like the best solution: readily available and durable shelters which could not only arrive on site within weeks, but could provide the necessary protection from the looming winter months and inclement weather in Chile.

But, we also had our eyes on the future.  0322 is more than just a means of providing protection; it is also a way of building communities.  Once initial needs are met, such as providing a safe shelter, the home owners can personalize their containers at their own pace and budget – adding a window here or there, painting the interior and eventually purchasing the simple affordable exterior cladding and pitched roof we’ve designed.  The concept is to provide stabile growth and allow the home owners to transform the container into their home.  After all, we recognize that not everyone wants to feel like they live in a container.

For more plans, photos, and an informational pdf on unit 0322 check out our website.

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Exotic Architecture #3

Richard Rogers may be more well known for his sense of style than as the inspiration of the current generation of Antarctic structures.  However, having perused a fantastic book on modular construction, I stumbled upon Richard and Su Rogers Zip-Up Enclosures No 1 and 2 and immediately thought of those small stations stubbornly surviving in the harsh climate.  These high tech Zip Up Enclosures were intended to replace housing as we know it.  The frame of each structure would consist of several panels comprised of hybrid plastics, rubber and PVC.  The idea being the skin could act as its own structural support, similar to the system in cars and certain mobile homes.  People could buy the necessary amount of panels and zip them into the existing pieces, creating a home fit perfectly to their needs.  Further, the structure could adapt to any site as the support stilts could be jacked up accordingly.  Sound familiar? That’s because it’s very similar to the techniques being employed on Halley VI and other Antarctic research stations (as previously mentioned here).  Not to mention, Rogers even nailed the aesthetic of current space age looking stations such as the South African station and newly built French and Italian research station.  Though admittedly, Zip Up Enclosures retain Richard’s appreciation for bold gaudy colors, something the research stations haven’t employed yet.  After all, what better way to find a station then look for the eye popping yellow and pink tube, jutting out of a landscape of white.

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Revisiting Halle VI

Queue up the Steve Zissou music, we are returning to the Antarctic.  The Architectural Review recently reported on the progress of Halley VI, one of several research stations refusing to succumb to the extreme weather conditions of the Antarctic.  Its an interesting article delving into the facade of the mobile research station which is made of glass reinforced plastic.  For more check out Ruth Slavid’s article on AR…

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The Oil Tank House Boat

In the 1939 June issue of Popular Science, there is an amusing piece of engineering and design in which Rene Tatro refurbishes a 20,000 gallon oil tank into a house boat.  It has all the fancy and fantasy of an Aristide Antonas Keg Apartment, even complete with a duck billed canvas overhang. I’m not sure about the health implications of living in a repurposed oil tank, but it sure sounds fun.


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Exotic Architecture #2

In the late 60’s and early 70’s the Metabolism movement was booming in Japan.  The simple tenants of mobility and organic growth in a large scale population flowed through all of their designs.  Possibly the most iconic or at least most well known example from this period is the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo’s Ginza district.  The principal idea behind the tower was the creation of a central core to which living capsules could be “plugged in” or pulled out when the tenant moves out.  In this way a capsule owner could keep their own capsule and ideally move around town to other cores.  The dream never came true, as this was the only tower built.  What makes this such an interesting project is the possibility for mobility but also the interior space which utilizes all sorts of space saving techniques, including drop down furniture but also paired down living, such as smaller bathrooms and smaller beds.  While not the most ideal living space for a family or even a couple, it is an amusing and interesting project architecturally and sociologically.

Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on the buildings life line and if it isn’t demolished yet, it most likely will be.


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Container Atlas

For a while now, containers architecture has slowly been popping up around the globe.  With the growing number of projects its becoming harder and harder to keep up with all the great designs.  Luckily Prof. Hans Slawik, a faculty of Architecture and Landscape Sciences at Liebniz University Hanover, has managed to create an amazing book, Container Atlas, compiling all sorts of projects from public buildings, offices in warehouses, commercial/corporate architecture, various housing types, low budget architecture, exhibitions, art installations and even buildings trying to emulate the container look.  We are honored to have IMD partner Paul Stankey’s project be among the likes of LOT-EK, Shigeru Ban and Luc Deleu.

We highly recommend perusing a copy of Container Atlas, a book full of general information on containers, as well as great photographs and drawings.  The first section of the book consists of several great essays on topics ranging from the history of the container, to the construction physics of containers to the ecological aspects of container construction.  This book is as much about substance as it is about showing great images of shipping container designs from northern Minnesota to New Zealand.


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