These easy-to-build and 'climate-change-proof' homes are growing popular in places like Miami that are prone to hurricanes and flooding.
January 10, 2019
BUENOS AIRES - Shipping containers are becoming popular in southern Florida as living spaces, amid a growing interest in small homes that can resist hurricanes and termites, both recurrent problems given the area's climate. Various companies, including MF Global architects, offer container homes for the reasonable price of $1,000 per square meter.
Argentina"s Mariano Bogani, who founded MF Global in 2016, says "it is not profitable to return containers to their source or send them to a local factory for melting, which also pollutes." Bogani is of Italian descent and his family have long worked in metallurgy. He presently works on recycling containers into home building components. He says "Miami-Dade County, in the south-east of Florida, has the strictest construction code in the United States. It took me nine months of adjustments and tests before I obtained the approval of plans for the first house. In 2017, county authorities began elaborating a building code for homes made with containers using the information and experience from our project."
The impact on the soil is minimal.
He remembers when he began work, some firefighters stopped by to visit the building site. "They were positively impressed and commented on the containers' anti-fire characteristics, beside their low environmental impact," he says.
The first project consisted of two houses with a surface area of 100 square meters each, made of six containers in total. Four of them were 12-meters long and two measured 13.7 meters; all were 2.9 meters high. Inside these were divided into three rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a dining/living space. Building was 94% with dry construction techniques (DCT), and concrete was used only in the foundations. In the future, says Bogani, "depending on the soil you are building on, these can be prefabricated and just installed."
Shipping containers are a viable alternative to other building materials — Photo: Clarín
Due to the local soil type and hurricane risks in Miami, the containers had 28 supporting foundations welded onto an iron sheet holding each column. The impact on the soil, says Bogani, "is minimal. This plot has three 90-year-old oaks, Florida's most protected tree." The containers were modified, with columns replacing some walls. Openings were cut and window frames added, and walls consisted of plaster-lined, galvanized profiles. There was "absolutely no use of any wood for the structures," Bogani said, "as there is also a termite problem affecting all homes here. In fact there is annual insurance for this, which was not necessary in this case."
The roof is prepared for solar panels and water recycling equipment to drain rainwater into a storage tank. All plumbing was placed under the structures, easily accessible for any reparation.
Clarin is the largest newspaper in Argentina. It was founded in August 1945 and is based in Buenos Aires.