Category:shipping containers

July 29, 2006

TGI Freitag

freitag_zurich_store.jpg

Been a while since I've posted shipping container architecture news, but it's become so hot everywhere else, I'm sure no one minds. This is worth mentioning, though.

Regine interviewed one of the Freitag brothers about the bag company's new concept store in Zurich, which is made of a tower of shipping containers. It showed up on flickr a couple of weeks ago, too.

But this just reminds me how, every time I drive between NYC and DC, I fantasize about living in a tricked out stack of shipping containers like the ones stacked along the Turnpike. sigh.

17 containers for a concept store [wmmna, with lots of pix]
tons of photos, including official construction/fabrication images at freitag+zurich on flickr [flickr]


November 25, 2003

Shipping Containers, v. 4

Shipping container residence at the US Embassy in Kabul, image: csbju.eduIt's an inadvertent but recurring subject of interest here at greg.org: the architectural use of connex shipping containers. Sunday, NPR aired a puffy little interview with Zalmay Khalilzad, the new US envoy to Afghanistan; it turns out he'll be living in a shipping container on the heavily fortified grounds of the embassy in Kabul. He's not alone. According to this AP story on AfghanNews.net, over 100 containers were refurbished in Dubai to provide instant housing for the influx of US personnel. This picture comes from an account of someone posted to Kabul. Americans may have added microwaves, TV's, private baths, A/C, "some tentative-looking shrubs and bushes" out front, and in one case, a pink flamingo to their containers, but except for their fresh coats of paint, they'd blend right in to the Kabul skyline. Except, of course, that US containers are reinforced with sandbags and ringed with concertina wire.

Barnaby Hall's photo of shipping container shops in a Kabul marketplace, image: dukemagazine.duke.edu Don't let a construction industry devastated by 30 years of chaos get you down! Rebuild your marketplace with containers! image: Barnaby Hall's travelogue in Duke's alumni magazine.

Turns out you can fit a lot of irony into a 40-foot shipping container. And just when you think it's full, well, you can stuff in some more. Another Afghani-related compound, Guantanamo's Camp Delta, is built from shipping containers. But so, it turns out, is the Army/CIA's interrogation center at Bagram Air Base, the site of reported torture and human rights violations in the name of our war on terror. (As the WP quotes one official, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job.") They're also the structure of choice for expanding Israeli outposts in the West Bank. Containers, concertina wire, and conflict apparently go hand in hand.

With their adaptability, rapid portability, and instant utility, containers are the architectural embodiment of "Flexible Response," Donald Rumsfeld's doctrine of military transformation. Of course, "Flexible Response" isn't new; it grew from the Korean War, and Rumsfeld's predecessor Robert McNamara implemented his own quant-heavy interpretation in Vietnam. The 21st-century version is just air-conditioned for our comfort.

Here's the AP's glowing, realtor-like description of Khalilzad's new pad: "Three containers were used to create his relatively palatial hootch, with a formal dining room that can seat eight, a front sitting room and a side lawn. A wooden fence around the ambassadorial residence gives it privacy and a suburban hominess."

Terry Ritter's photo of Hootch Highway, image:ciphersbyritter.com

A hootch? If you have to ask--and I had to-- a hootch is soldiers' slang for instant housing, particularly the aluminum sheds they inhabited in Vietnam.

Related: the Darren Almond shipping container post that started it all, plus some unexpectedly moving memorial realizations.

February 20, 2003

Shipping Containers, v. 3

A sporadically recurring topic here at greg.org, the non-shipping use of shipping containers. [Instigating post here, extensive post here.]

an illegal outpost named Gilad Farm, West Bank. photo: Heidi Levine, nytimes.com Shipping container used in an illegal Israeli outpost, image:nytimes.com

Samantha Shapiro's NYTimes Mag story, "The Unsettlers," profiles young, militant Israelis who pioneer illegal settlements in the West Bank.

illegal settlement in Jordan Valley, image: metropolismag.com Shipping container used in an illegal Israeli outpost in the Jordan Valley, image:metropolismag.com

Stephen Zacks' review in the Feb. 2003 Metropolis of a (cancelled) exhibit on architecture and urban planning in the West Bank, where Israeli hilltop settlements use suburban sprawl to control the surrounding territory. Architect Eyal Weizman: "It's almost like you have a model of the terrain and you cut a section at say six hundred meters, and everything that's above is Israeli. What was created was an incredible fragmentation of the terrain into two systems that work across the vertical axis." The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has published Weizman's exhaustively documented settlement map of the West Bank.

For all your settling needs, illegal or otherwise, the Shipping Container Store: passing the mountainous container landscape along the NJ Turnpike, I saw Interport Maintenance Corp., which sells shipping containers. Delivery is extra.

Camp Delta, Guantanamo, USA, Cuba
image via globalsecurity.org

Last month I wrote about art and architecture made from connex containers, the standard 40-foot steel boxes used for international shipping. #1 architects MVRDV proposed a complex made from them for Rotterdam, their home town (and a major port). As the discussion on this architecture message board shows, container architecture is an idea with a lot of adherents.

Now you can add the Department of Military Aesthetics to the list. Containers were used to construct Camp Delta, the more permanent neighbor of Camp X-Ray, on the military base under US control (if not jurisdiction) in Guantanamo, Cuba. Here's a description from Joseph Lelyveld's very long NY Review of Books article about the quandary of the Guantanamo detainees:

Delta was thrown together for $9.7 million by a private contractor, Brown and Root Services�a division of Vice President Cheney's old company, Halliburton�which flew in low-wage contract labor from the Philippines and India to get the job done, in much the same way that Asians were once brought to the Caribbean to harvest sugar cane. The cell blocks are assembled from the standard forty-foot steel boxes called connex containers that are used in international shipping: five cells to a container, eight containers to a cell block, with four lined up on each side of a central corridor where the lights and fans are installed. Welders cut away three sides of each container, replacing them with sidings of steel mesh, leaving the roof, floor, and one steel wall into which a window was cut. Floor-level toilets were installed�the kind requiring squatting, traditionally described as � la turque�and now these are sometimes mentioned as an example of American sensitivity to the cultural needs of the detainees.

Nearly a month after an accidental click into a carry-on luggage article brought my surfing to a teary halt, it's okay to laugh again. In this week's New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten tells of of several successful attempts to carry Emmy Award statuettes (complete with "sharp-tipped wings"...shaped like "serrated steak knives") onto transatlantic flights. [Apparently, none of the comedy writers or filmmakers in the story are yet listed on Ashcroft's dissenter=terrorist no-fly list or are giants of Iranian cinema.]

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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