Shipping containers offer safe, affordable housing in Brighton

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Richardson's Yard opened in December, 2013 (Photo: James Farell)

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Britain has a housing problem. According to homeless charity Crisis, the recession, deep cuts to the benefits system, and a comparative lack of new homes being built have all contributed to increased levels of homelessness over the last few years. With this in mind, QED Property recently collaborated with WCEC Architecture and the Brighton Housing Trust to build a new shipping container-based housing development in Brighton, UK, for people at risk of homelessness.

Richardson's Yard opened in December 2013, and is located in central Brighton on former commercial land that would have otherwise remained underused, according to the developers

The development comprises 36 dwellings in all, that are constructed from a like number of standard 12.9-m (40-ft) shipping containers. Inside, the containers feature sleeping quarters, toilet and kitchen, and there's also an additional nine containers currently being installed at the site for use as office and community facilities. The residents' rental costs are covered by Housing Benefit allowance.

The containers sport green roofs, which provide an additional layer of insulation. There's also a solar panel array on-site, which reduces grid-based electricity requirements (surplus electricity is sent back into the national grid), and a food-growing initiative is underway.

Though we're big fans of shipping container-based architecture here at Gizmag, living in a large metal box does have some drawbacks. To QED Property's credit, the firm has uploaded an independent report to its blog, that gives voice to those living in the containers.

According to the report, most residents did not feel that the containers were too small and they also voiced approval on the interior decor. The only significant negative feedback appears to center around insulation; many residents said that they did not feel well-insulated in winter, and that heating costs were expensive. Still, overall, the project is a success, and the report states that 94 percent of residents felt the development was better or much better than where they may have been living before.

The entire scheme cost £900,000 (US$1,443,292) in total, including all development costs and construction. QED Property is hoping to build a similar development in London.

Sources: QED Property, Crisis (pdf)

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