At ArchDaily, we believe it's important to keep our readers up to date on all the most interesting developments in architecture. Sometimes, we will present ideas and projects with a critical eye; however, in many cases we simply present ideas neutrally in the hope that it will spark some discussion or critical response within the profession. Recently, a series of connected news articles about proposals for high-rise shipping-container housing provoked just such a response from Mark Hogan, principle at San Francisco-based firm OpenScope. Originally posted on his blog Markasaurus here's his reasoning for why, contrary to the hype, "shipping containers are not a 'solution' for mass housing."
What’s wrong with shipping container buildings? Nothing, if they’re used for the right purpose. For a temporary facility, where an owner desires the shipping container aesthetic, they can be a good fit (look, I’ve even done a container project!). For sites where on-site construction is not feasible or desirable, fitting a container out in the factory can be a sensible option, even though you’ll still have to do things like pour foundations on site. It probably won’t save you any money over conventional construction (and very well might cost more), but it can solve some other problems.
The place where containers really don’t make any sense is housing. I know you’ve seen all the proposals, often done with an humanitarian angle (building slum housing, housing for refugees etc) that promise a factory-built "solution" to the housing "problem" but often positioned as a luxury product as well.