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Shipping Container Building Wins Design Prize

Shipping containers modified to provide comfortable quarters for cafes and temporary commercial uses have found their way further afield than just the red zone in post-quake Christchurch. One artful arrangement of containers on Auckland’s North Shore has recently won the supreme award in the 2013 ADNZ Architectural Design Awards.

The Long Bay showroom and cafe was the distillation of months of experience by Tauranga designer Cameron Cotton in adapting shipping containers for affordable, energy efficient accommodation, both residential and commercial.

At Long Bay, the developer of a major new subdivision needed a focal point for visitors. The company turned to Cameron Cotton, of Cubular Container Buildings, for an energy efficient, affordable and relocatable design solution. The final design, which was developed from an initial concept by Construkt Architecture, was a sleek integration of four painted containers joined by an eye-catching atrium in Vantage glazing bars. The units were constructed in Cubular’s factory premises in Mt Maunganui.

Sunshades, wooden decks and shrubbery gave the installation some relief from the all-steel appearance. Generous use of windows and doors was also a decisive factor. 

The final result saw the project trump 129 other entries from across New Zealand in winning the top prize. 

"This design is robust and environmentally sustainable," said Astrid Andersen, General Manager of ADNZ (Architectural Designers of New Zealand). "It is also beautifully designed and constructed. The industrial nature of the shipping containers has been embraced, left unclad and painted with heavy-duty matt black container paint. It is a beautiful mix of solid, ribbed, robust steel combined with smooth, translucent glass."

The Vantage products featured in the Long Bay Cafe include hinged doors and sliders as well as fixed lights and aluminium louvres, all powder coated in matt black to coordinate with the container colour. The supplier was NZ Windows, in Tauranga, who have also provided the windows and doors for a number of other container accommodation projects by Cubular.

Cubular Director, Ingrid Cotton, says that all the company’s buildings meet NZ Standards and Building Code requirements. Alternative solutions are sometimes required in gaining compliance. "This is a new arena of architecture," says Ingrid. "We have no examples to follow so we have to create our own." The company designed all interiors, kitchens and lighting for its projects.

She said that some of the advantages of using containers included quicker construction times, the ability to coordinate fabrication within a factory environment, elimination of invasive siteworks, increased building strength compared to alternative materials, longer lifespans, and good weather resistance.


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