Innovation That Matters

Shipping containers repurposed as floating student accommodation

Property & Construction

In Copenhagen, shipping containers are stacked on top of a floating base to create sustainable low-cost student housing.

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Full-time college education is becoming less and less affordable and housing is one of the big costs faced by students. Springwise has covered several innovative solutions to the problem of affordable student accommodation. We have seen a community housing scheme in Canada that connects students looking for an economic living arrangement with over 50’s living alone, and a care home in the Netherlands that offers students free accommodation in exchange for 30 hours voluntary work. Now offering a new solution is Urban Rigger, a company which has used shipping containers stacked on a floating base to create low-cost studio apartments for students.

Designed by Bjarke Ingels’ firm for Copenhagen harbor, the accommodation can be configured in lots of different ways. One example is a complex of 9 shipping containers stacked in 2 levels on a floating platform to create 15 studio residences. Windows and doors are punched out of the corrugated frames and they are connected via glazed greenhouses. The containers are arranged in such a way that the ends overlap to form a shared garden in the centre. The roofs of the top level shipping containers are not wasted space and are used for terraces, gardens and solar panelling. The development also has a low environmental impact using upcycling, heat source pumps, solar panels and low-energy pumps. The development also aims to take advantage of the city’s underused waterways and to future-proof against rising sea-levels (in much the same way as did the Prenuptial House we covered recently). Bjarke Ingels partner, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, wrote of the Urban Rigger design, “In terms of sea level rise… it’s the only building type that will never flood.”

This is not the first time we have seen an innovative repurposing of shipping containers. We have seen these behemoths used as emergency medical clinics in Haiti, pop-up malls to regenerate the economy after the earthquake in New Zealand and as portable maker spaces. Could Urban Rigger be the first of many to use this low-cost architecture to solve the problem of providing flexible, sustainable, low-cost housing?



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