From family-minded apartments in Texas’ bachelor-heavy Eagle Ford Shale region to 20-unit condo developments in midtown Detroit, the robust and well-traveled architectural building blocks otherwise known as retired shipping containers have proven to be good for a lot more than single-family show-stoppers (and Starbucks drive-throughs).
A remarkable recent addition to the multi-family shipping container party is Imouto Container Housing Project, a safe and affordable housing complex for women in Vancouver, B.C.'s Downtown Eastside that’s being hailed as Canada’s “first recycled shipping container social housing development.” After the first container landed in November of last year, the development — spearheaded by Atira Women’s Resource Society in a partnership with BC Hydro, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, and several community partners — is now preparing to meet the general public during open house dates to be held on Aug. 9 and 10th.
In total, the Imouto Container Housing Project consists of a dozen self-contained studios (each has private bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas) ranging in size from 280- to 290-square-feet. The units, accessible from exterior staircases, are stacked three high. Six of the units will be rentals available at Housing Income Limits rates ($875 CAD maximum) while the remaining six will serve as social housing for older women “with roots in the community who are stable and interested in mentoring the young women living next door at Imouto Housing for Young Women,” according to a press release issued by Atira. Those units will rent for $375 CAD per month.
In terms of construction, it cost in the ballpark of $82,500 CAD to retrofit and convert the 12 corrugated steel boxes into habitable spaces— this cost includes “premium elements” such as washers and dryers that normally not be installed in non-market housing. The units meet all building codes and even exceed insulation and sound transference requirements.
It’s a noteworthy project — total price tag: $3.3 million including the restoration of the adjacent 16-unit Imouto Housing for Young Women building which provides housing for women in the community who are homeless or near homeless — all around but perhaps what’s most fascinating is where the 12 retired containers were sourced from: Eight were purchased from the Port of Vancouver, two were donated from private parties, and the remaining two are being reused from a BC Hydro-sponsored shipping container demo home project, “The House of the Future,” that was installed by the utility during the 2010 Winter Olympics (the home was donated to Atira in the summer of 2010). The City of Vancouver contributed $92,000 to the project.
And even before the Imouto Container Housing Project’s first residents have moved in to their Alexander St. digs (September is the expected occupancy date), Atira is already starting in on preliminary work on another shipping container development composed of 42 old shipping containers.
Plenty more imagery and info at the Imouto Container Housing Project homepage.
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