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CLARIN

Climate Change Idea: Shipping Containers Recycled Into Homes

These easy-to-build and 'climate-change-proof' homes are growing popular in places like Miami that are prone to hurricanes and flooding.

Container homes are catching on in many places
Container homes are catching on in many places
Paula Baldo
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."
containerhomes_argentina_miami_design_housing
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.
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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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