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Wednesday May 09, 2012

Freight container morphs into bachelor pad

South Africa's first residential flats made out of freight containers are under construction in Joburg's Windsor East.

A housing development in Windsor uses shipping containers as a base.

The three-storey structure will have 15 flats measuring from 4.8m for the smallest.

The development is aimed at the lower-income market.

Jika Properties, which owns 350 flats in Windsor, owns a piece of vacant land in Countess Avenue where people were dumping rubbish.

Paul Lapham, chief executive of Jika, requested Citiq Property Developers to investigate what methods could be used to build a cost-effective, conventional building in an unconventional method that would still make it possible to rent the building out as convenient, compact and affordable housing.

"After extensive research was undertaken, both locally and internationally in countries such as China, Holland and England, it was identified that construction with steel containers and modular units has been used successfully for the construction of houses, office blocks, clinics, university residences and boutique hotels," Lapham said.

Although not yet well known as a popular building method in SA, the idea of steel containers is not new but has been tried and tested in Europe, Australia and the US, he said.

"We ran a competition involving seven architects to design plans using steel shipping containers.

"The main criteria were to design an aesthetically pleasing building that would be safe, affordable and that would stand out to uplift the Windsor area."

Plans were approved by the City of Joburg, and construction has started.

"We're very excited to be part of the team that introduces this innovative and revolutionary building method in South Africa.

Up-cycling - or the use of existing material to create a new product without destroying the existing product - is a buzzword the world over in efforts to lower the carbon footprint on Earth instead of destroying or recycling.

Using existing shipping containers as a low-energy-consumption module to create more affordable and efficient building makes sense and should be used more regularly in South Africa," Lapham said.

Although it is made from containers, there will be very little of the containers showing.

"We are basically using the shells - there will be brickwork in between, which is a pity because it would make the development different.

Another advantage is that we can construct much faster. Depending on the reaction, the company will be looking at rolling out the project in other stands in the area," he said.

Citiq Property Developers managing director Arthur Blake said: "We hope to inspire others to use this method of construction to alleviate the housing shortage in South Africa and to lead the way in showing that alternative methods of construction that can supplement conventional brickand-mortar methods to speed up the delivery of affordable housing."

Rentals will start from about R2 400 for a bachelor unit to R4 000 for a three-bedroom unit.

The Star

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