While Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks, a project heralded as the country’s first multifamily housing complex to be built from retired shipping containers, has yet to materialize, Detroit will soon be proud home to another cargotecture first: the city’s inaugural “occupied shipping container homestead.” Because I guess it needs to be differentiated from all those unoccupied shipping container homesteads already floating around Detroit?

General Motors is the driving force behind this notable container home concept, which when, finished will squeeze 320-square-feet of living space (two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom) into a repurposed 40-foot-long corrugated steel box. GM will supply both an arsenal of scrap building materials and a team of employee volunteers from the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant to help construct the abode. The completed homestead, built to code, will be installed on an agricultural plot in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood operated by two-year-old nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI). An agriculture student/MUFI intern will act as caretaker, residing in the home year-round while managing the surrounding farm and partaking in scholary research activities.

TAKD Design is overseeing the overall the design of the home while Integrity Building Group is serving as construction lead for the project, a project that aims to “demonstrate the effectiveness of repurposed materials on dwellings oriented toward urban agriculture.”

Says Doneen McDowell, plant manager of Detroit-Hamtramck, in a press release issued by GM: "This innovative project allows our facility to give back even more and be an integrated community partner while reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded. MUFI’s plan to reinvent urban agriculture is a creative approach that helps Detroit’s renaissance in a sustainable, efficient manner.”

There’s not a ton of further design details on the home as of yet although GM has unveiled a short, primary list of recycled materials that will be incorporated into the home which, by the way, will be built from 85 percent scrap. They include Chevy Volt battery cases used as bird houses and planter boxes; leftover auto sound-proofing insulation repurposed into wall insulation; metal parts bins turned into planters; wood pallets transformed into interior furnishing; plywood from shipping containers used for interior wall cladding and “some furniture components.” The materials will come directly from Detroit-Hamtramck along with other GM facilities in Michigan and New York.

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Detroit is getting nifty shipping container homestead
GM helps to construct a shipping container abode that incorporates scrap materials collected from the auto giant's production facilities.