Shipping containers floated as the next BIG thing in student housing

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Urban Rigger comprises nine recycled shipping containers arranged on a floating base(Credit: BIG)

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Though the Bjarke Ingels Group appears to be increasingly associated with, well, big projects like the impressive courtscraper, it's most recently-completed build is on a much smaller scale. The Danish firm used recycled shipping containers to produce a sustainable floating housing prototype for Copenhagen students that it hopes to replicate elsewhere.

The Copenhagen Urban Rigger project comprises nine recycled shipping containers arranged on a floating base in the city's harbor. There's a total of 680 sq m (7,319 sq ft) of floorspace, split between housing, a common winter garden/courtyard, kayak landing point, bathing platform, BBQ area, and seating.

In addition, the student housing includes a communal roof terrace and a basement level with 12 storage rooms, laundry room, and technical room.

Inside, the container apartments look spacious, light-filled, and really quite attractive, certainly a lot more appealing to live in than many of the rundown brick-and-mortar student digs that dot our cities. The simple furnishings and use of unfinished wood contrast well with the large floor-to-ceiling windows that enable residents to gaze upon the harbor.

One obvious concern is insulation. It's something we've brought up before with shipping container architecture, but it's a real Achilles heel for such projects, and living in what's essentially a metal box on the water in the cold Copenhagen winter could prove a grim experience indeed. To address this, BIG lined the containers with a highly-insulating aerogel developed by NASA.

Aside from the environmental benefit of recycling shipping containers, the Urban Rigger project is green in other ways, too. Electricity is produced by a roof-based solar array, while a heat exchanger system uses the seawater it floats on to efficiently heat and cool the interiors.

Monthly rent works out at the equivalent of US$600 and BIG and Urban Rigger (the student housing startup that commissioned the project) aim to refine the prototype and export it to other cities. A 24-unit project is planned for Sweden next, and there's even the possibility that it could be adapted to serve as housing for refugees.

Sources: BIG, Urban Rigger

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