Shipping in large steel and aluminum containers has become the main method of transport in the world of global commerce. In the U.S. imports far outweigh exports, and shipping an empty container costs more that the $1000 USD for a new one. Thus there are large surpluses of retired shipping containers at every major port in the U.S. As a result, secondary uses for shipping containers have been steadily growing.
However, to use a shipping container as a building unit is difficult. Any cut into the side must be reinforced, and because they are steel, significant insulation must be added. Often the costs saved on structure are offset by the needed treatments to make a shipping container livable.
The objective was to fully integrate a modular building system into the existing transportation infrastructure of shipping containers, including cranes, trains, trucks and forklifts, thus giving the “empties” a viable second life.