Sunday, May 3, 2009

Alpacas and Shipping Containers

When originally approached to design an alpaca ranch, [1016] was excited to work on such a unique project type. The client went further to ensure his project would be original: he declared that it would be built from shipping containers. As in the 8' x 8'-6" x 40' steel boxes you might find near a port or railyard. Midnight Moon Alpaca Ranch will be another example of shipping container architecture.

Shipping containers and alpacas...

Seems like a natural fit.

What's the Deal?
Once modified for use as building modules, shipping containers are referred to as ISBUs, which is short for Intermodal Steel Building Units.

Due to the net import economy here in the United States, these precisely engineered and robustly constructed boxes stack up empty in shipping yards around the country. Turns out it is more economical to manufacture new containers at the point of origin rather than ship back empty ones to be reused, which is something that [1016] finds powerful.

Powerful because of the opportunity presented by a surplus of unwanted, and therefore relatively inexpensive, containers. ISBUs make use of these otherwise fallow containers and buildings made of them are therefore sturdy, strong, easily modified in the shop (prefab) or on site, and sustainable since all ISBUs are inherently living a second life. All of these reasons make ISBUs an economical and eco-sensitive way to build, and we are happy to join the ranks of designers and entrepreneurs exploring the aesthetic and technological benefits gained by utilizing them.

Certainly, [1016] is not the first architecture firm to work with ISBUs, but we just might be the first to use them on an alpaca ranch. We have found several good sites to use for resources and inspiration. Please check them out if you are interested in more information on ISBUs or shipping container architecture.

ISBU News is a blog-style website that compiles info on current projects as well as documenting resources for planning a project.

was our primer into the history of shipping containers as building units and architecture.

Jason Cadorette, a former co-worker, and his team won a design contest called What If New York City? with his designs for emergency-deployed, temporary housing utilizing ISBUs.

Fellow Notre Dame alumnus, Pablo Nava, and a business partner, use ISBUs to help shelter families in Mexico. You may have seen NBC television commercials featuring the work he is doing there.

To be continued...
[1016] Architecture is excited to be working with Midnight Moon Alpaca Ranch to design their new facilities from ISBUs. Inside the Brackets will cover progress of the project as it unfolds over the coming months.

Also, if you have never seen an Suri Alpaca before, check them out. Pretty mellow and unique-looking:

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