The shipping container rage has taken hold in many cities across the globe, with new uses ranging from single family homes, second homes, medical clinics, offices, and retail stores to even sculptural art. Some of the reasons for success lie in the durability, adaptability, light weight, and low cost of each container, and the ability to stack, and if need be, disassemble and relocate to other areas. While there are many excellent examples of this conversion type, I came across my first built and operational example on a trip to New Zealand, and most recently in Denver, where I live.
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND The magnitude 6.3 earthquake that hit Christchurch in February 2011 severely damaged New Zealand’s second-largest city, particularly the central business district. It was estimated that it would take over $40 billion and more than 50 years to completely recover from this and the previous magnitude 7.1 earthquake that occurred in September of 2010. Because of the sever damage to underground infrastructure and foundations in the central core area, even buildings otherwise untouched or damaged by the quakes will have to be be demolished.
To speed economic recovery while major efforts are being implemented to clean up and restore the downtown district, the city has created whats known as “Container Village,” a different shopping mall alternative constructed from the adaptive use of shipping containers. Called Re:START, this project replaces and expands retail opportunities in a unique city environment.