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This Humble Home Was Once a Storage Container in Taiwan

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Thanks to America's trade imbalance with Asia, we have way too many shipping containers lying around. Not exactly our most pressing problem, but you can't make buildings out of hungry mouths or carbon emissions. So architects concerned with green building have taken to using the hulking steel boxes as building blocks. One firm in Long Beach, California, wants to arrange 65 used shipping containers in an elegant, rolling design to build a sustainability research center.

Because we buy so many more goods from Asia than they do from us, ports in American cities are clogged with empty shipping containers; the only way to get rid of them is to ship them back overseas, which is costly enough that new containers often are cheaper for exporters than used ones sent back from America. So using the containers in building is a smart way to recycle.

Apartments and condos made from shipping containers seem to have caught on as a mini-trend in the past few years, especially in London, where Urban Space Management's Container City project was enough of a hit that the firm built a sequel development. There are some more good examples of container architecture in this Yahoo! Green story from a few years ago.

Not everyone likes shipping-container architecture, and not all container-based projects are conceived alike. In Fort Worth, city council members ordered their zoning staff to stymie a development that aimed to make containers into low-income housing; officials found the project inadequate for single-family homes, with Mayor Mike Moncrief saying, "It's not going to attract anything except problems."

Judging by some of the comments online about shipping-container buildings, it seems a lot of people think they have a shabby look to them (maybe because they resemble dumpsters), or that more should be done to disguise their origins as containers. Personally, we think they look cool, and as long as it didn't carry fish guts or human waste across an ocean in a previous life, we're fine with the idea of living in a shipping container.
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