Shipping container-based campus leaves nothing to waste
Thailand's International Sustainable Developmental Studies Institute (ISDSI) teaches American students about sustainability, so it makes sense that when it needed a new campus, it used shipping containers. A total of 17 containers were used for the main building and nothing went to waste, with all of the off-cuts reused as doors, walls, and the like.
ISDSI did consider building its new campus from bamboo, straw bales, and other materials, but ultimately decided to use shipping containers sourced from Bangkok's ports due to there being so many available.
One of the biggest challenges was that construction took place during the rainy season, so the mud made work difficult. Also, 10 mature trees were already on the site and the construction team had to slot the containers under them, without damaging the trees, which required a light touch. Ultimately, the project was completed in nine months.
After being carefully inspected and shipped to the new campus site, the containers were heavily modified. Some areas, like the six classrooms, are based on one container each, with windows cut into the walls. Larger spaces, such as the office, consist of two containers cut and joined together.
Some of the uses for offcuts include interior walls, bathroom sinks and stalls, as well as a kiosk and welcome counter in the gym and campus cafe. Elsewhere, the project includes a common area, conference room, kitchen, a library, and a seminar room. The containers rest atop a concrete pad and are welded to embedded steel plates.
The terrible thermal performance of shipping containers means they can become very hot or cold in all but the most temperate weather. To mitigate this, ISDSI added insulation and refurbished air-conditioning units. There are also fans and operable windows installed, and some shading is available thanks to the trees already there.
The three-floor layout of the campus is arranged around a central open-air area that promotes ventilation and instead of closed hallways, the building is navigated by open-air walkways.