vancouver's low-income housing made of recycled shipping containers
vancouver's low-income housing made of recycled shipping containers vancouver's low-income housing made of recycled shipping containers
aug 04, 2013

vancouver's low-income housing made of recycled shipping containers

vancouver’s new low-income housing development is made of 12 recycled shipping containers



the 12-unit complex, built by the atira women’s resource society, is the first in canada to be made from recycled shipping containers sourced from the port just across the railroad tracks. each has its own kitchen, bathroom and laundry, and was created to provide affordable housing for women older than 50 in the low-income neighbourhood.

in order to qualify, potential tenants can’t earn more than CAD 34,000 per year.



containers are stacked three high and have full floor-to-ceiling windows at each end. external staircases link each floor.



the project has been met with criticism. ‘these studio apartments range from 280 to 290 square feet, if we were to build similar housing for disadvantaged people with units from scratch, it’s about CAD 225,000 per unit. the container buildings are about CAD 85,000.’ says city councellor dr. kerry jang. ‘take a look through this building and you’ll see that it’s livable.’
the city donated about $90,000 to the cause.




atira works with women who have been subject to violence. six of the units will be social housing (CAD 375 per month) for women with roots in the community who are willing to enter a mentorship program with the young women living next door at atira’s imouto housing. the other six will rent at housing income limit rates, or about 30 per cent of a woman’s income. atira hopes to build a second recycled shipping container development with 42 units soon.

read more here.


 following are steps of the building process. all images courtesy atira.


















  • You do realize that Kerry Jang’s comments are the opposite of criticism, right? Jang is an advocate for low-income housing.

    qwerty says:
  • The advantages of using shipping containers as your construction building blocks include:

    They are inexpensive. A used container will cost between $800 and $6000 each, depending on size, age, condition and distance from the building site. Each 40 foot container gives you 320 square feet. They generally cut overall construction cost by 20-50%.

    Energy concerns. It takes far less energy to reuse shipping containers in a building than to melt them down and reform then into steel beams. Add solar panels and even the ongoing energy use will be green.

    Examples of plans can be found HERE- CONTAINER

    Jim says:
  • Shipping containers are a near perfect solution to low income housing. We need a tremendous amount of affordable housing in the U.S. The construction shortage of the last 25 years (used to over inflate housing prices) must be remedied or there will be too many middle class families that will no longer be able to afford to rent…….and become homeless vagabonds living on the road in RVs. Is this really what we want for the U.S.A. ????

    nann says:
  • At lest where I live in Seattle, the fantasy they are cheap to use and cut overall construction is absolutely false. There are metal boxes after all, at it takes a lot of work to make them energy efficient or meet energy code at all. Try finding a contractor that would even be willing to work with them. When you do, they want to change an arm and a leg because it is unfamiliar.

    I want to believe in container architecture, but can’t. Use them because you think they are cool and utilitarian, but don’t say they are cheap to build with and they are a solution to low income housing. It is a lie…unless you live somewhere where this is no energy code and people don’t mind living in metal hot boxes.

    It is cool to see projects like this though.

    NaN says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
493,017 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample