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April 2, 2009

Think Inside the Box: Innovations in Eco Housing.

by Sarah Janelle Miller

Ever wished you lived in a box? What if it offered you all the comforts of your regular housing but was a lot “greener” and possibly more affordable? What if it could look like anything you wanted it to?

Well surprisingly, your answer might be a shipping container. Yes, you read correctly. A shipping container.

Ever seen those large, metal cargo containers being loaded on semis or stacked on trains? Sometimes they’re bright colors, but always rectangular and carrying a load of some sort.

Believe it or not, it is more cost effective for these shipping companies to buy new containers rather than re-use the old ones. So naturally (or unnaturally) they discard them. What to do with the old discards? Re-use them of course…

At first thought, living in a metal box that once shipped a car or furniture, may not seem all that enticing. But amazing things are happening to these containers, making them extremely home-worthy. Now, “Container Homes” are gaining popularity across the US and Europe.

Many savvy architects are jumping on the band-wagon and creating eco-chiq urban dwellings that boast luxury fixin’s and any eco-inspired trappings that you can dream up. Others have created innovative concepts that meet the needs of various lifestyles- like foldable houses that are ready to be transported to their next locale. Foldables have even been created that open with the push of a button.

The shipping cartons can be bought at a nominal fee (under $1,000) and placed in any location. They can be restructured by an independent mind or suped- up through a builder. Perfectly stackable, several can be joined to enlarge the living space. They can be fitted with solar panels or any other eco-minded concept that you can dream up.

Skies the limit it seems with the shell of an empty box.

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