Steel Shipping Containers Become Home, Sweet Home

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On MetalMiner, we’ve discussed shipping and freight costs. We’ve discussed metals in the home (and even the restroom!). Today, though, we ran across a story that combines metals, shipping containers, and home, sweet home. Soon, thousands of people without a place to call home could find shelter in unique houses that were once steel shipping containers.

Each 320-square-foot home will contain a bathroom, kitchen, sleeping area and bright door, and will hopefully benefit many people in poverty-stricken areas. The brainchild of Brian McCarthy, this prototype for small, but comfortable, homes developed after a trip through a poor neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

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Photo Credit: AP, via CNN.

During his trip through Mexico, McCarthy was shocked to find a number of poor neighborhoods that housed even the most polished employees of Fortune 1000 companies. “We saw hundreds of homes that are made out of wood pallets and cardboard and scrap metal and scrap building material,” McCarthy told the Associated Press. “It was amazing to me that in an area where there was such growth and economic prosperity, that [people] were living in such poor conditions.”

After running across an article on shipping containers converted into guest houses, McCarthy felt an idea take root: “They talked [in the article] about the merits of the construction, how strong they are, how affordable they are and how plentiful they are.” With partners Pablo Nava, Kyle Annen and Mackenzie Bishop, McCarthy formed PFNC Global Communities to help low-wage workers in Mexico find safe shelter in steel homes. PFNC stands for “Por Fin, Nuestra Casa,” which means, “Finally, our own home.”

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The interior of a PFNC home. Photo Credit: AP, via CNN.

“PFNC doesn’t intend just to build shelter,” AP reports. “It wants to build communities, and McCarthy said the group expects to have the first pilot community on the ground late next year … The shipping containers, which can be hauled by truck, rail or ship, are designed to stack. PFNC envisions a cluster arrangement, eight side by side and four high, with apartment-type balconies and staircases in the corners.”

Steel shipping container homes may sound sparse to some Americans, but others find them beautiful, charming, even ideal. As the PFNC partners shared the prototype to members of a poor Juarez neighborhood, many responded, “You know, it’d be like a dream to live in one of these,” Nava said. “Just the thought of having nice fresh air ventilating through the house, a large bed … a normal kitchen and a safe home that locks and closes each night was more than appealing.”

–Amy Edwards

Comment (1)

  1. rosie says:

    I think that this sounds a great idea – and yes, shipping containers can look beautiful! Nowadays it is possible to convert them so that they have all the modern comforts.
    Here in London, England we have lots of examples of how shipping containers can make affordable, transportable accommodation without disturbing the infra structure. Probably the most famous of these is Container City in the Docklands. Well worth a look should anyone have doubts as to what can be done!

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