Tuesday, August 05, 2014

New Things in the Neighborhood — Shipping Containers as Apartment

From a story in the Post on July 20:
They are the building blocks of the global economy, 20 million big steel boxes sloshing across oceans on mammoth container ships.

Starting Monday, the first of 18 dented outcasts are set to be stacked in a dug-out District basement, turning a deteriorating student group house into an experiment in creating eye-catching housing fast and on the cheap.

Among the questions raised by the effort: Can hundreds of thousands of discarded sea containers, long talked up by designers, really help create more affordable housing, or is it mostly a gimmick? And just how do you bring humanity to the confines of an 8-by-40-foot box?

If the economics work and people actually enjoy living in lovingly repurposed steel husks, the architects on the project have bigger dreams, including floating hundreds of sea container apartments on a barge in the Potomac and creating a homeless village on the river to serve Georgetown.

It just so happens there not too far from where I live. I took a walk down there a week or so ago and took these pictures. I was down there last night and, as least from the outside, not all that much has changed. Then again I can’t get a real close look at what is going inside the containers. 

Here’s more about the first day of building:
The 400-ton crane was all set, tucked between three sets of hanging wires, two houses and a cantaloupe plant with a small hanging melon, and John Creese was edgy.

“The first one’s the only one that worries me. There will be a learning curve,” said Creese, who was helping orchestrate Washington’s heavy-machinery take on a barn raising Monday.

A dozen workers, including crane operator Ed Kane, had come from Georgia and California and Baltimore to build a three-story apartment building made of shipping containers — in three days or less.

Just before Kane lifted the first slate-blue container from the back of a flatbed, Creese laid out the task: “He’s got to pick it up, swing it over the houses and drop it right where it goes. Hopefully, it’s nice and smooth and easy.”

I'm going to be monitoring this and will post more about this as it progresses.

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