September 21 2012

The Shipping Container Life: Temporary Uses in The Netherlands

Container student housing in AmsterdamAlthough experiencing the great need for temporary adaptive reuse projects in Phoenix, Arizona, I might say that I didn’t expect The Netherlands to require such measures to activate their urban spaces.

I’ve been living in one example of temporary use: a shipping container apartment complex. It may be obvious to some, but the benefit of constructing with shipping containers is that they can be deconstructed with ease and located elsewhere: the perfect modular (and recycled) unit for building on a lot lacking permanent, long-term use. International student housing (including these shipping containers) is not known for it’s architectural design or complete comfort; however, with the gap in the housing stock, temporary construction can be a perfectly adequate solution. Still remaining is the question of toxicity levels that may persist from past uses, certainly something that should be addressed with the increasingly ubiquitous use of shipping containers.

Another superb example of the shipping container life is part of in the Ebbingekwartier in Groningen, The Netherlands. This weekend (Sept. 20-21), it will play host to the final Creative City Challenge conference with urban planners, architects, community organizers and more from all over the EU. The focus this year is creative temporary uses. As part of an international effort (driven by policy and grassroots initiatives), this space has utilized modular shipping containers to help shape the contemporary yet temporary space, housing a school, café, and offering a canvas for graffiti artists. Earlier in the month there were film screenings and, until the weather gets too cold, it functions as an outdoor meeting place.

Ebbingekwartier temporary use of shipping containers

Groningen has worked on its city identity and worked to brand itself as a center of culture and knowledge in The Netherlands. The identity of this space certainly can add to this effort. Alongside policy, the incremental efforts of the surrounding community have made this an activated place. The case of Phoenix, did not have as much policy backing as Groningen supplied.

How much does policy play a part in helping to activate temporary spaces?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Ellen Schwaller

Ellen Schwaller is a former GRID blogger and graduate of Arizona State University's master's program in Urban and Environmental Planning. Spending most of her life in the sprawling sunbelt, it was a recognized desire for human-centered rather than auto-centered places that drew her to the planning field. With a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science, she looks for ways to integrate the natural and built environments to create spaces and neighborhoods that matter. A large part of her research has been in the realm of residential perception and attitudes and how this might inform city and neighborhood planning and design.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 21st, 2012 at 11:34 am and is filed under Architecture, Environment, Environmental Design, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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