What Can You Do With an Old Shipping Container? Turn It Into a Commissary.

Categories: The Environment
eandhcommissary.jpg
The E and H Commissary as it looked during construction on Tuesday before its installation on the SMU campus
Speaking of big doings on the SMU campus ...

Next week brings the first-ever Engineering & Humanity Week to the Hilltop, courtesy the Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity. And among its myriad highlights is the construction of the so-called Living Village, where students will "live, cook their meals and sleep in temporary shelters designed to house people displaced by war and natural disasters," it says here. There, you'll find Friend of Unfair Park Harvey Lacey's Plastic Block House, made of those bales of recycled plastic to which we introduced you back in December.

Brent Brown, head of bcWORKSHOP and the Dallas CityDesign Studio at City Hall, and I were on the phone this morning, and during our chat he introduced yet another element of the Living Village: the E and H Commissary, which is made from a converted shipping container.

Says Brown, quite simply, "The goal of this is to think differently about food distribution." As in: He wants to see if it's possible to turn these old containers -- which will be solar-powered, outfitted with rain-catchers and easy to move using a trailer -- into food distribution centers for, let's say, local farmers or community gardens wanting to sell their goods off-site.

"We want to know: Can these types of facilities help community gardens and farmers markers?" he says. "It locks down tight and opens up completely. It's like a side-of-the-road farmers market, except it's durable and costs $150 to move around. We chose a container because it's about re-purposing." Which seems to be all the rage these days.

Says Brown, the containers cost about $1,8000, and bcWORKSHOP actually bought a 45-footer last year to convert into a "field office and gallery space." This one's smaller: 20 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet.

"A couple of months ago, we got asked to participate in this village by the Hunt Institute, and we said we don't do disaster relief housing. But we said, 'We have this commissary,' and we wondered what could be the afterlife. We don't just want to make it for E and H week. Talking to Stephanie Hunt, we said, 'How about community gardens?' Maybe this is a way to help them distribute their food. And since it's solar-powered, you can run a laptop to keep track of inventory and have a different relationship other than just a tent. There's still a lot to work out, but we've been visiting with folks in the movement, and there's been some excitement about how to engage it."

So, could it be, let's say, a food truck?

"Sure," Brown says, "but that would require for it to be stationary and work within the code. But our interest was to get some excitement locally about this, which is the goal of the workshop. We're not creating every idea, but we're seeing what's happening and trying to example it."
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12 comments
Charmania
Charmania

There are so many functions of shipping containers. If I have an old one, I wanted to use it as a container garden, house, simple study room or a  shop for a small business.

Container Home
Container Home

Its always great to see people enthusiastic about Shipping Container based construction solutions.

For those interested in the next level on - real world deployment - its important to keep in mind that there are as many new challenges as opportunities when it comes to ISBU solutions for poor areas around the World.

I live near the Thai / Burma/ Laos Border and have had my original enhusim for ISBU solutions dampened a little after several real world deployments.

Its hard to get the western mind around what a "low cost house" means - in my part of the world that means about $5,000 USD walk away - which is barely enough to transport the unmodified containers to the site - Containers cost roughly the same every where in the World.

Using local building materials ( soil cement blocks and steel reinforced concrete by way of example ) we can build 2 modest but durable, safe and green houses for the cost of one ISBU home including insulation.

For anyone interested in the great, the good, bad and the downright ugly of container based construction here are a series of free videos.

http://www.containerhome.info/...http://www.containerhome.info/...http://www.containerhome.info/...

Regards

Victor

Shipping Container Guys
Shipping Container Guys

These shipping containers are really proving to be more and more useful. Rather than just being used for shipping purposes, they are being turned into a lot of other things. Props up for these durable containers!

Ben
Ben

FYI: This is on the north side of the Cox School of Business. It's easy to check out from the Boulevard if you just want to swing by for a few minutes.

While the project is "sustainable" in design, they have liberally used 18 wheelers, backhoes, bobcat bulldozers and trimmed back some live oaks to get everything finished on time and to fit in the space. Seems that if the end goal is to make a true green space then you would not use all that horsepower to do it. Would of like to see more students involved. Seems that it's mostly grifter types building it.

Today they cut down my tree branch that I use during football games to hang Natural Light beer cans. I'm sort of sad.

Harvey Lacey
Harvey Lacey

Robert I have to thank you for the mention.

This has to have been one of if not the best weeks of my life. We have had so much fun working with the Hunt Institute and all their gang. They are the greatest. They have been entirely too nice to us.

For the unititiated to what we are talking about. Take a look at Robert's link to the video he ran. Now imagine for a minute that you are one of the principles at the Hunt Institute. Would you invite that character in the video wearing the red t shirt into your first engineering and humanity week event?

The principles at the Hunt Institute aren't like you and me. They asked me if I could build a house with the recycled plastic blocks for their big week. We can talk about leaps of faith and never get close to the chasm their faith was facing. At that point in time I hadn't built a house with the blocks anywhere.

So the first one is being built at the event Robert's talking about. It's almost done. Next week my college age grandsons (go OU) will be staying in it for the Living Village Week event.

If the idea of good solid housing meant to last at least a lifetime for $250.00 materials cost in the developing nations interests you then you might find the model home something you would like to see for yourself.

If you think a Dallas garbage truck full of plastic rubbish being hijacked and the materials used to build that house makes your green interest tingle, you might want to stop by and visit us.

If you are one of those quirky types that loves to pieces doing the same thing in a completely new way, again, you might want to drop in for a look see.

If you have a soft heart and love a story about the power of words to do good, come by, there's one to be told and heard. One about a Kenyan architect believing in the talents of a Texas red shirted old man. Believing in him enough that the red shirted old man started believing in himself.

If you can't come by then at least go to facebook and like "Ubuntu-Blox"

Andy Nold
Andy Nold

Sounds like Roger Black's Cinco Camp

TimCov
TimCov

There's a lot of things these containers can be used for. I've seen them joined together to make houses and apartments.

Robert
Robert

Next time in Dallas I want to see the Congo Street houses that Brent Brown brought back to life. Particularly the one with the groovy covered stairway.

Harvey Lacey
Harvey Lacey

Ben, sorry for the grifter look, product of the sixties. As for those involved, we've had the most students on board. None of them were assigned to us. They all came by and asked if they could help.

The bobcat was moving sand and helping arrange heavy pieces. That sand was for the earthbag shelters. I don't know if you've looked down lately but it's been thousands of years since we had sand readily available.

Come by tomorrow, don't wear shoes. We'll allow you to wear out your frustration mixing in the sand, clay, and straw into an earth plaster. It's done barefoot. You'll get dirty. It will make you smile.

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