Thinking Inside the Box: Innovative Construction in Gainesville
Alachua County and the City of Gainesville might be utilizing old cargo containers as the solution to housing homeless people in the future.
Although it may not be chosen as a building option anytime soon, the city has received a report on the possibility of using converted shipping containers as apartments.
It's an unconventional housing option that's about to debut in downtown Gainesville.
The project's architect, Stephen Bender, said, "they epitomize recycling."
The future residence of Tom Fox will be made of old steel shipping containers stacked three wide and three tall.
It's an environmentally friendly structure with special insulation, recycled materials, solar panels on the roof and a living green wall covered in vines.
Michael Amish of the Florida Green Building Coalition said, "It's exciting because it's using a material that's never been used in Gainesville before...it's a shipping container as a home."
Bender said, "It is three bays of 40 foot long containers, with a four foot gap in between...they're stacked three high. Through that gap is where he moves through the project. So the stairs are in there, a light well of sorts in there. And he has the building systems, the plumbing, the electrical go through that area as well."
The containers will be in place within the next few weeks and then the home will be open to the public, to help the community to understand a new approach to construction.
The structure will be the first of it's kind in North Central Florida and the City of Gainesville is taking notice.
Theresa Lowe, Director of the Office on Homelessness, prepared a report for the Assistant City Manager about the possibility of utilizing storage containers.
She said, "Now that the thought's out there, you know it's rumbling around and it might be something to consider for future construction."
Although the cost of building with storage containers, is lower than traditional construction, about $2000 to purchase each container and $25 to $100 per square foot to finish, it might not be an immediate solution to housing the homeless.
Lowe said, "It's not free, it's not cheap...it's lower cost than some regular construction, but there's still a cost involved."
However, proponents of the inventive green building are sure that the idea behind it will lead the way into the future.
Amish said, "It's the way of the future. I think "Green Building" is just smarter building. I think you'll hear a lot of people say that who are involved in Green Building."
Lowe said, "Gainesville is very forward thinking, so I don't think it will be the last time we're asked to look into something like this."
Thinking outside the box, by putting people inside of one, is the kind of innovative thinking Gainesville is known for.
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