How soon will we need container cities?


container city I

                                                            Container City II

  

 

Good morning. I guess this morning I want to talk about thinking WITHIN the box. A video about Container City in London caught my eye. I think it is a marvelous idea and a huge way to recycle.

Everybody has seen shipping containers if they’ve watched movies with action scenes on the docks, or seen pictures of “lego blocks” stacked on top of each other on huge cargo ships.  A year ago I was boating in Hanover, Germany’s harbor among a maze of shipping containers up close. I never really gave any thought to the containers or what happened to them.

Did you know that the average life span of a cargo container is five years? When you start thinking of the millions of containers that are used around the world, that’s a lot of used boxes. The video states that there are enough containers presently on our planet to build an eight foot wall around the equator…twice! Now THAT’S a lot of boxes. Too often things are made for our use with no concern with what to do with them once their usefulness is over.

One day someone started thinking about the containers “outside the box”. The containers were after all no different in their use than the cereal boxes we toss every day. But someone had a different use in mind. The result was “Container City” in London. London was experiencing an urban housing crisis and this turned out to be the answer. At first they started with work studios but have since graduated to living quarters.

Prior to this idea containers sat around on the docks unused waiting to be scrapped and melted down.With the advent of this thinking, that step in recycling was no longer necessary.

The first building was erected in four days and finished out in five months in 2001 with 80% of the materials used from recyclables. Container City II was constructed in 2002. From there they have gone on to build schools, sports centers, music studios, youth centers, the possibilities appear to be endless.

Is this the way to go with our cities? We surely must soon reach the point where huge lots are out of the question. Already in our city the more affluent are choosing to remain in the heart of the city and are buying up the smaller outdated houses to tear down and build in their place what people call McMansions. They are building their huge houses on very small lots. I’m wondering, however, if even that will last too long. How long can we afford to let just one family take up valuable space with just one home?

City planners need to have a master plan in place already to house the populations that are continuing to explode within our towns. When I moved here to this town in 1977 the population was close to 386,000.   Now thirty years later it is close to 720,000 and growing more every year. If that trend continues, city planners will have to provide more multiple family dwellings with access to public transportation to accomodate all the people. In my opinion it would not be wise to continue to build further away from the city center. If we do, the city will probably end up like many of the suburbs around Chicago. Those who can afford to live within the city limits are moving back in while the poorer among the population are “stuck” in the suburbs. Can cities afford to keep that trend going, or is something like Container Cities the answer?

I wonder if “Container Cities” will catch on in the United States. I can’t seem to find much information about it on google.    In the 50s I remember futurisitic drawings of cities which remind me very much of the Container Cities today. Is this the way of the future? We must do something with our recyclable materials and at the same time serve the housing needs of a burgeoning population. What do you think? Is this a viable solution?

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