Shipping Container Homes

Although I don’t believe that a single shipping container home currently exists in Brighton & Hove, the general concept has been around for some time. Most of those that I have seen though have been built as architectural statements, rather than as practical housing.

A project has been proposed by Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) for some very practical shipping container housing on an undeveloped site beside Brighton Station, which I first assumed to be Block J, the last of the empty New England Quarter plots. The site in question is actually part of the yard of G. E. Richardson & Sons, the scrap metal dealer, that opens onto New England Road below the bridges.

The scheme, which should go to planning soon and, if improved, be completed by late spring, is to consist of 36 shipping containers; each for a single occupant. There is to be one block of three storeys at the front of the site and a second of five storeys to the rear. The already modified containers have been sourced from Rotterdam by Sussex-based QED, the property company that owns the site and that was largely responsible for the New England Quarter development. The purchase will be completed if planning permission is won. There are 100 available in total so perhaps more could be bought if the project is a success.

The modular nature of the containers will make for a quick construction process – and vice versa when they are taken down in a few years’ time. They can be stacked easily and services connected without any fuss. The containers will be reached via a landscaped garden and the upper storeys via external staircases. At the very top will be green roofs with water-harvesting facilities.

An example of this sort of accommodation abroad is the Keetwonen scheme in Amsterdam where 1,000 shipping containers have been turned into some incredibly desirable housing for students. The Brighton scheme though is to be designated
‘move-on accommodation’ to cater for a specific need within BHT’s range of different housing options.

Although I was optimistic about this idea from the outset, my first reaction was actually that it would somehow annoy those in certain quarters. At 25m2, each of these homes will actually be larger than many flats locally. They will be well insulated and newly decorated. It is hard to see how any sensible person could be against this wonderful proposal.