Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

21st century 3rd world trailer home

Prototype image from

I was reading CNN late last nite and came across this article on PFNC who are proposing using shipping containers for housing in a city in Mexico. They have designed and built a prototype - Youtube video here - and I think it's a great idea. It is a very Blade Runner, William Gibson, Johnny Mnemonic vision of the future. If the alternative is to live in squalor and in a tin shack and with rats, or have a customized container with running water and power, what would you prefer?

From the PFNC site:
PFNC stands for "Por Fin Nuestra Casa." Translated in English this simply means "Finally, a home of our own." These words are the foundation of PFNC, whose goal is to provide housing to those who most desperately need it around the globe.

PFNC utilizes surplus shipping containers resulting from the United States' consistent trade deficit. These containers serve as the building block of PFNC housing, but go through an extensive conversion process to make them a home. PFNC offers an affordable housing solution that is scalable and fully portable. Each PFNC unit includes 1st world amenities for a price of less than $10,000 (US)*

Design images from
It got me to thinking, would there be any reason why they couldn't be used in the Southern US where it's consistently relatively warm for America's homeless? A more barracks bunk bed arrangement, and a multi shower washroom container, and a kitchen container etc? It seems like something that could be pitched to the government as emergency shelters too. I imagine they would be incredibly cheaper/tougher than the ridiculously overpriced FEMA Katrina trailers.

What I want to know is how do they keep them cool- aside from the AC? What is the roof coated with? A steel shipping container wouldn't be cool if the roof didn't have some sort of shielding on it.

In hurricane ravaged Caribbean nations, being able to deliver them on a container ship would be a super fast and cheap shelter solution for the UN to do. Imagine if they had been stockpiled and available for the 05 Tsunami?

Maybe approaching Maersk and seeing if they could donate some, great PR opportunity for them if they did. Imagine a Ciudad del Maersk in the middle of Mexico or Haiti?

As a side note, you can go onto the Maersk site and track your shipping container anywhere in the world to find out where it is. Thats cool. I mean you can do it with UPS and FedEx so why not them, but thats cool.

Started me thinking about designing a home built out of shipping containers. I came up with some cool ones just based on two separate container designs in a configuration of three or four linked together. Was wondering if you could bury them inside the edge of a hillside for insulation? Would their structure support it? They are designed for stacking, but the pressure points are the edges and corners not in the centre surfaces. Having a grass bio roof would be cool too.


Mike Wood Photography

1 comment:

Chris said...

Did you ever see the foreign film "The Man Without A Past"? There is a small community of homeless people living in shipping containers. I believe the film was a Finland production.