Shipping container tower block

Paul Raven @ 17-03-2009

In what might be some bizarre manifestation of hyper-rapid Zeitgesit symbolism adoption, the repurposed shipping container really does look like it will be one of the visual memes of 2009. Here’s the latest contender, the proposed Lotto Turm of Stuttgart, Germany:

Lotto Turm - shipping container tower block

The Lotto Turm tower will be constructed of 55 shipping containers stacked on top of each other, and will be designed to include a noise-free courtyard as well as a spiral pathway that circles around the building. Balconies, terraces, and stairs accent the tower from top to bottom, giving the stacked block structure a fantastical quality, and Gardens and plants will accentuate the varied vertical landscape. The public may enter and go all the way to the top of tower for a view of the city through the lotto sphere.

I don’t know what local development policy is like in Germany, but there’s no way that a shipping container tower block would get a green light here in the UK (more’s the pity). That said, I’m not entirely sure how straight-faced the Lotto Turm idea really is – there’s definitely an element of humour in Behrendt’s design.

Still, given the amount of shipping containers that have started piling up empty in docks and factory lots around the country, they’re just waiting to be reused for something worthwhile; pragmatism may defeat NIMBYism in shorter order than anyone might expect. [image by architect/designer Lars Behrendt]

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4 Responses to “Shipping container tower block”

  1. khannea suntzu says:

    This are “merely” shipping containers. Interesting! Apparently shipping containers are available, and affordable enough to be used in these recycling schemes.

    Now, what if I’d order a large amount of prefab, mass-produced building elements, and allow people in any specific place, full democratic rights to acquire and allocate these structures as they see fit, according to set formula’s?

    – Some spots would have tighter safety regulations, others would not….

    – Some would be low, sprawling structures, others would be towering ten layers high…

    – Some would be interlocked and tight together configurations of building elements, others would be in privacy-oriented, seperated chunks and villa’s…

    – Some would become warrens of densely packed markets, with alleyways and dark tunnels and alleyways…

    – Some would create for wide streets, with bridges of container/compartment/prefabricate components spanning over the roads and streets, interlocked gardens, gardens with greenhouse covering, walkways, wide spanning bridges…

    I am a little fed up with the paradigm of housing building companies and asperger “iknowhatsgoodforyousoshutthefuckup” architects delivering a cookie-cutter, price-inflated, seperatist, boring, quickly outdated, monopolist, cost-cutting, untweakable, subject-to-endless-red-tape buildings.

    I know its bad in the US, and it is much worse here in Europe.

    Uniformity. Lack of imagination.

    I really like these containers, and I’d love quickly evolving frefab-villes with bridges and railings constructed on this paradigm. I’d positively love them stacked ten floors high as “forbidden cities”, virtual mazes with identities and unique economies and people living together.

    Hell, I think whereas a house currently costs a few 100+K, the ground it sits on costs 100+K, with this business model ground prices would drop down (because of competition – you can leave easier, taking your house components with you on a truck) and you can certainly build cheaper.

    Bedroom modules. Office modules. Business modules. Garage modules. Kitchen modules. Shower/bath modules. storage space modules. Children room modules. How much would 6-8 modules replicating a fairly spacious normal house cost?

    ….what if they could be imported from China, even with quality control, for under 5K per unit? You could have all required house parts for what, under 50K, screw on new parts if cash becomes available, left, right, behind or on top, agreeing with neigbors in well-tested formalized contracts?

    Alas, right now we are held ransom by bankers and mortgages, and annoying consumer fads.

    Hell, I might make me a number of examples of these housing module units in Second Life, to make a point and give them away for free. Anyone who has ideas for that, please email me!

    Building materials? Metal? Plastics? Rounded or Squared off? Integral closets or internal modularity?

  2. George Runkle says:

    I choked when I saw this one. Thinking through this as a structural engineer in shipping container construction, I wanted to cry. There are so many levels of difficulty in structurally designing something like this, and building it. I don’t like it at all, it’s whimsical, but has no practical value. Why is it thought that “good” architectural designs are buildings that are next to impossible to erect?

  3. geoff fulton says:

    Congratulations to the designers. we need more people like them. We ahve just built our SMALLisSMART HOUSE to show the knockers like architect Sean Godsell who claims that shipping container houses are not for permanent living (only because he didn’t design it and get the Qudos), that in fact shipping containers make ideal houses even in bush fire hazzard zones. The SMALLisSMART HOUSE was exhibited at Australia’s premier design expo DesignEX 2009 and more than 1000 visiors left their names and addresses for more information. It now has been invited to show at the Builder’s and Home Renovators Expo on June 26 to 29 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. We have phots and info on our web site, including examples of the McCristal house (using shipping containers) and the Fulton House in Florida to be built from 29 shipping containers.

  4. Geoffrey Fulton says:

    To anyone knocking the use of shipping containers for housing, please look at our SMALLisSMART HOUSE. We were overwhelmed by the positive attitude of all who visited it at the two recent Expos!