The benefits of container homes in South Africa

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
The container garden studio in Johannesburg A4AC Architects Small houses Solid Wood Beige
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A4AC Architects is the team behind today’s design inspiration. With quite a collection of design projects completed in South Africa (and the rest of the continent), A4AC Architects specialises in giving old shipping containers a second chance in life by transforming them into more usable structures like houses, coffee shops, schools, etc. 

Describing themselves as “a young -but experienced- group of Architects”, A4AC Architects is also deeply committed to functionality with their designs and products. That is why they aim to passively heat and cool every single one of their container creations to make them more practical and user friendly for clients. And let’s not forget about the firm’s long list of available services, which include the completion of council-approval forms for relevant scenarios, interior design, exhibition stand design, 3D modelling and rendering, professional model constructing, etc.

By now you should have guessed that container homes are the main topic of today’s discussion. So, let’s take a look at some of the advantages that have helped to make this interesting architectural evolution more and more popular in South Africa…  

1. The history of container homes

The main reason for shipping containers’ invention was to help transport goods quickly and easily across land and sea. What made these structures’ popularity really take off was the fact that they were:

• Large enough to carry several thousand cubic metres of goods, yet small enough to fit on trucks and be driven on normal roads,

• Sturdy enough to survive tricky journeys at sea, yet light enough to be moved via cranes and forklifts,

• Uniform enough so that any truck or ship could decently hold a container, yet flexible enough to be used for dry- and refrigerated goods, bulk liquids, etc. 

2. The benefits: Affordability

Let’s be very clear: although shipping containers are not always cheaper than more traditional types of construction, many people find that building with containers does help to cut costs. This is usually dependent on various factors like design choices, size, location, and the amount of labour involved. 

The main thing is that if you correctly harness those advantages that shipping containers offer over traditional methods of construction, you should reap economic benefits. Thus, try and accept the container for what it is and work with it as opposed to against it. 

3. The benefits: Sustainability

Words like ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘sustainable’ are being used more than ever. ‘Recycling’ is another big one, but it’s actually the last step when talking about the hierarchy of waste management as expressed in the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

Shipping containers is another great way of ‘reusing’ a material or product. And when paired with ideas on minimalism and tiny houses (another trend in the 21st century), shipping containers can also cover ‘reduce’ by making less use of building materials and natural resources. 

4. The benefits: Strength

Container kitchen A4AC Architects Modern kitchen Iron/Steel Red
A4AC Architects

Container kitchen

A4AC Architects

Shipping containers are built to be very strong and withstand wear and tear – making them ideal for construction use. Thus, don’t worry too much about that container withstanding Mother Nature and keeping you and your possessions safe. Companies specialising in shipping container buildings are nicely clued up on what it takes to turn that old steel container into a practical and relaxing home. 

5. The benefits: Uniqueness

Pamodzi Diepkloof mixed use containers A4AC Architects Industrial style houses
A4AC Architects

Pamodzi Diepkloof mixed use containers

A4AC Architects

Shipping containers are intentionally made to be the same size and shape as millions of others. So, where does the uniqueness come in, then? Not so much in the material, but in the structure’s potential! 

Ponder for a few minutes the many different ways in which a container can be modified, combined, and utilised to meet a client’s unique requests. And then, upon realising the endless possibilities that exist, companies such as A4AC Architects become so much more than just another name in a pile of construction professionals.

Although container homes can be adjusted to be super large and spacious, we feel this is the ideal time to check out 9 BIG benefits of living in a small house

Would you consider using a shipping container for a home / extension?

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