7-Storey-High Apartment Tower Made of Shipping Containers Coming to Vancouver

Photo credit: steve gibson | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: steve gibson | Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever walked by Vancouver’s port, you’ve probably seen those multicoloured stacks of shipping containers soaring into the sky like giant Lego blocks.  Now how would you like to live in a condo tower made entirely of those containers?

Vancouver may soon be home to the tallest shipping container structure in North America – a 7-storey, 71-foot-high building to serve as social housing in the Downtown Eastside.  The 26-unit structure, proposed by the non-profit Atira Women’s Resource Society, would use approximately 90 shipping containers and would be erected on the corner of Hastings and Hawk Streets, according to a Globe and Mail article by Francis Bula.

While easily the tallest structure of its kind in the city, the building wouldn’t be the first. Atira already has a considerably smaller shipping container building for social housing called Oneesan on Alexander Street in Vancouver.  Oneesan is made from 12 shipping containers, though it would be difficult to tell just by looking owing to its artful design.

Oneesan, Atira's smaller shipping container project. Photo from Atira website

Oneesan, Atira’s smaller shipping container project. Photo from Atira website

Atira’s new project, which is awaiting rezoning approval, would take shipping container housing to new heights, literally. The 90 recycled containers, which cost just $3,000-$5,000 each, would be stacked seven high. Each heavy-duty container weighs six tons and is made of high-grade steel, so the ones on the bottom can easily bear the load of the containers above.

Inside, the containers are completely refurbished and equipped with electricity, plumbing and other amenities. Ultimately, it’s hard to even tell they began their lives shipping freight across the oceans.

Photo credit: Tagishsimon | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Tagishsimon | Wikimedia Commons

Around the world, shipping container housing has become something of a trend. High-profile container structures have been built in the hip Docklands area of London, in Amsterdam for student housing and in Germany for temporary banks, according to the Globe and Mail article.  Currently, the title for world’s tallest container building belongs to an 85-foot high structure in Zurich that houses a Freitag store, the Swiss clothing and accessories manufacturer known for using recycled materials.

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