Nine-Story Shipping-Container Building to be Constructed in London

A rendering of the future nine-story shipping-container office tower.
A rendering of the future nine-story shipping-container office tower.
02 July 2019 London, United Kingdom

London studio Patalab Architecture has won approval to build a nine-story office building from shipping containers, which is projected to become the world’s tallest building made from modular structures upon completion.

When built, the office block in Whitechapel, East London, will be 26 meters tall plus a lift overrun. This is estimated to make it taller than the Freitag Store in Zurich–which is claimed to be the current tallest building made from shipping containers.

Patalab  opted to design the building from reused shipping containers for both practical and aesthetic reasons.

“On the one hand, this construction is a very economically-friendly way to build, with off-site modular manufacturing and a considerably shorter time on-site,” said Uwe Schmidt-Hess, founder of Patalab.

“On the other hand, it is the aesthetic quality of the shipping containers that we feel works well with the environment,” he told Dezeen.

The containers will be stacked nine high, with a steel frame providing additional structural support. On the exterior, the containers will be fully covered, and glass balconies will be placed on the street façade.

“The containers will be stacked nine high, with a steel frame providing additional structural support.”

Inside, the containers will be cut to create open-plan office spaces. Each floor will have hallways lined with corrugated metal that will be colored based on the design schemes used by freight companies to paint the shipping containers.

Patalab Architecture believes that the office block will advance container architecture, moving it from being associated with temporary use to more permanent, long-term use.

“First of all, it is taller than any container building before. This means structural arrangements had to be considered carefully,” said Schmidt-Hess. “I am convinced we will see more shipping-container buildings, as the economic case for constructing them is very strong.”

As a condition of planning consent, the building is required to meet a sustainability standard of BREEAM Excellent. To achieve this, along with the largely recycled structure, the building will have solar panels on the roof.

“We pushed the sustainability aspect by providing a highly-insulated envelope and integration of renewables, achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating,” added Schmidt-Hess.

Shipping containers have been used as the structure to create numerous cafes and offices. In 2018, Kengo Kuma created a drive-through for a Starbucks in Taiwan from the stackable containers, while Julius Taminiau created a space for startups in Amsterdam.

Other inventive uses for shipping containers include that of Neubau, which created a receptionists’ desk at a Cambridge University college, and JBAD, which turned a container into a parking attendant booth in Ohio.

For more on this story, go to Dezeen.

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