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The latest news on ArchDaily from Business Insider

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    Shibam Yemen

    Walking through narrow chaotic alleys dwarfed by soaring towers, few would estimate the age of Yemen's city of Shibam at nearly 1,700 years.

    Located in Yemen's central Hadhramaut district, Shibam has roots in the pre-Islamic period, and evidence of construction dating from the 9th century.

    Shibam is known as the first city on earth with a vertical masterplan.

    A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, the city is home to densely packed buildings ranging from four to eight storeys, beginning in 300 AD but now mostly built after 1532.

    Thanks to a fortified ring wall, the city has survived nearly two thousand years despite its precarious position adjacent to the wadi floodplain.

    Shibam, YemenAs an important stop on the spice and incense trade route, Shibam emerged as a beacon of wealth in the Southern Arabian plateau. The city began as an enclave for rival families seeking prestige, political power, and protection from Bedouin thieves.

    The notion of stacked housing quickly became the architectural modus operandi, and thus began the construction of hundreds of mud brick buildings. The solution the contiguous tower-houses eliminated vulnerabilities from attack, while simultaneously exhibiting the wealth of the residents.


    Shibam was built atop the pre-Islamic capital of Shabwa after its destruction in 300 AD, largely levelling the former community.

    A few fragments remain from the earliest construction in Shibam, including a mosque built in 904 and a castle built in 1220, however the city was largely rebuilt after 1532 when a devastating flood swept the region, crippling the foundations of the city's ancient towers. Despite its strategic location on the highest point of the wadi floodplain, Shibam has frequently been the subject of flooding, prompting the fortification of its outer walls.


    The city is surrounded by fertile land employed for agriculture, using an integrated urban system for the simultaneous generation of food and building materials. After crops are harvested from the surrounding land, soil is collected for construction inside the walled city - and construction is a continuous process, with the towers requiring regular maintenance with fresh coats of mud.

    Shibam is historically revered for its ingenious urban planning methods, particularly with architecture that harmonizes with a population deeply devoted to traditional Muslim culture. Early incarnations of Islamic architecture can be noted in the fenestration on the higher levels of the structures while the ground levels were dictated by security, creating a fortress-like defense system to protect the affluent residents inside.


    "Sometimes called the 'Chicago of the desert' or the 'Manhattan of the desert', the old city of Shibam presents to historians and urbanists one of the earliest and most perfect examples of rigorous planning based on the principle of vertical construction," reads the UNESCO brief on Shibam. Credited as the home of the first highrise apartment buildings, Shibam has become a symbol for the rise and resilience of middle eastern culture in the desolation of the surrounding desert.


    SEE ALSO: 18 brilliant ideas for the skyscraper of the future

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    NOW WATCH: What US cities will look like under 25 feet of water

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    Zaha Hadid Architects has teamed up with Plus Architecture to design their first tower in Melbourne.

    The 54-story mixed use skyscraper is designed as a series of "stacked vases" supported by an "elegant colonnade of sculptural, curved columns" that "embody and emulate the finest examples of historic architecture" in the area.

    If approved, the proposal will add a mix of retail, commercial and residential programs to its site at 582-606 Collins Street.

    From the architect: A delicate filigree gently envelops the building, including the Francis Street service areas to ensure there is no sense of “back of house” to the surrounding areas.

    Designed to use 50 per cent less energy than a conventional mixed-use tower, this filigreed façade contributes to a reduction in the direct solar gain of the building and emissions.

    High performance glazing system, high efficiency central cooling, high efficiency lighting and grey-water reuse systems are also proposed to reduce consumption of resources and further lower the emissions.

    Evolving from the city’s very distinct urban fabric, the arrangement of the proposed tower takes inspiration from its mixed-use program, converting the building’s overall volume into a series of smaller stacked ‘vases’.

    01_aerial_sunrise_croppedCentral to the concept is the break-down of the vertical volume by the design team to establish a coherent relationship between tower, podium and surrounding streetscapes.

    In addition to housing a different programmatic element, each ‘vase’ gently tapers inwards to offer additional open space at its base. Within the proposal there is a significant proportion of the ground plane given over to public realm, with external area dedicated to a plaza accessible 24 hours a day. 

    The design intent is to open up the ground plane improving the flow of pedestrian traffic and enriching connectivity with existing transport infrastructure, which includes the adjacent Southern Cross railway station and existing tram network that runs parallel to the site. 

    The design also proposes the creation of a new pedestrian route that would connect Collins with Francis Street, further alleviating pressure at the Collins and Spencer Street junction. 350 bicycle parking spaces and bays for electric vehicles and shared car clubs are included within the design.

    Within the proposal, junctions between each vase invite the interaction fostered at a street level to continue inside the podium, where a rich mix of retail and commercial offerings as well as easily accessible communal spaces have been included in the proposed structure to promote public engagement.

    News via LandreamUrban Melbourne

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: London architects have designed a completely transparent ‘floating pool’ 10 stories above the ground

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    sports stadium

    Architects continue to push boundaries with their designs.

    ArchDaily recently announced the winners of its annual Building of the Year Awards, determining 14 of the top buildings in categories that ranged from offices to religious structures.

    Over 3,000 projects were submitted, with the winners including buildings that are incredibly beautiful, creative, or that provide valuable service to their community. 

    From a store that was turned into a skateboarder's paradise to innovative structures in less developed parts of the world, here are 14 architectural gems from around the globe. 

    SEE ALSO: These are the most extravagant hotel amenities money can buy

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    Cultural Architecture — Harbin Opera House, China

    Architects: MAD Architects

    Religious Architecture — Ribbon Chapel, Japan

    Architects: NAP Architects

    Interior Architecture — House of Vans London, United Kingdom

    Architects: Tim Greatrex

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    cobra tower

    Russian designer Vasily Klyukin has envisioned the "Asian Cobra Tower." Just as its name suggests, the gold-plated tower takes the shape of a snake, offering offices and apartments in its body and a restaurant, night club and terrace in its jaws. 

    "In Japan telling someone that he is a snake means a compliment. In China snakes and dragons often mean the same," says Klyukin. "The symbol of wisdom and eternal life, this tower would embellish any Eastern city."

    cobra tower 2

    "Snakes and dragons are custodians of threshold, temples, treasure, esoteric knowledge and all lunar gods. If this skyscraper is built in a city this city will become eternal in its resurrections," adds Klyukin.

    cobra tower 5

    "The diamond-shaped pattern on the back of the snake is the symbol of Yang and Yin, duality and reunification of the Sun and the Moon, male and female principles, conciliation of opposites, and androgyny."

    cobra tower 8"Snakes change their skin, as this skyscraper can change its coloring."

    SEE ALSO: Dubai is building a $2.8 billion amusement park — here's what it might look like

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    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This glass slide will wrap around the top of a skyscraper 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles

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    Library Collage archdailyFrom community meeting hubs to secluded refuges, places to learn and places to study, libraries can be so much more than just a place to a check out a book.

    With this in mind, we’ve rounded-up 15 awe-inspiring libraries, including a Canadian church that was converted into a library, the first library in Muyinga, Burundi – built using participatory design and local materials – and the largest academic library in Finland.

    See what makes each of the libraries unique after the break. 

    SEE ALSO: 11 brilliant ideas for the skyscraper of the future

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    Rehabilitation of the National University Library / ANMA (Strasbourg, France)

    Strasbourg’s National University Library (BNU) found new life in this rehabilitation project by ANMA. Located in a building from the German-occupation period (1871), the architects sought to maintain the monumental architecture style, emphasizing the molding and dome on the outside, while at the same time creating newer, modern spaces on the inside. A 27-meter spiraling staircase connects all of the library’s floors.

    Cultura Bookstore / Studio MK27 - Marcio Kogan + Diana Radomysler + Luciana Antunes + Marcio Tanaka + Mariana Ruzante (São Paulo, Brazil)

    While not technically a library, this bookstore – and 2015 Building of the Year winner -- in São Paulo functions like one in many ways. Seeking to go beyond being a merely a place to purchase books, the architects sought to create spaces for people to read, hang out and meet up. To achieve this the top floor features 21-meter-wide bleachers, providing a place for visitors to sit and read as well as a spot where small concerts and lectures can be held.

    Hyundai Card Travel Library / Wonderwall (Seoul, South Korea)

    Built specifically for travelers, this library in South Korea is the perfect place for those with wanderlust. Seeking to create a form of travel itself, the library  “exhibits a thick accumulation of information, experience and objects, including a bookshelf that covers the entire wall from floor to ceiling.”

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    svalbard seed vault

    On April 26th 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine suffered a catastrophic failure, resulting in a nuclear meltdown and a series of explosions which scattered radioactive material across large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. More than 50,000 people were evacuated the following day, and over the next 14 years another 300,000 people were moved, leading to an exclusion zone today measuring 2,600 square kilometers that will likely remain in place for hundreds of years.

    To this day, the human cost of the disaster is still unknown, with estimates that in their lifetimes, anywhere between 4,000 and 200,000 people will be affected by cancers attributable to the incident. Along with the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of 2011, the Chernobyl Disaster is one of only two level 7 nuclear events in history.

    The incident at Chernobyl remains one of the most poignant demonstrations of humanity’s mastery over its environment, and also one of the most powerful demonstrations of how easily, and how catastrophically, that mastery can go awry. But humans are if nothing else resilient, and throughout history have used every means at their disposal to put right the problems they have caused for themselves — including a number of structures constructed to mitigate the effects of man-made disasters, both from humanity's past and its possible future.

    SEE ALSO: These copper-clad luxury apartment buildings — complete with an amenity-filled skybridge — will gradually turn green over time

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    The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement

    In the six months after the Chernobyl Disaster, construction teams hastily constructed the cheerily-named Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Sarcophagus, a structure containing 400,000 cubic meters of concrete to stop the further spread of radiation and the contaminated materials contained within the building. However, the hurried nature of its construction means that the Sarcophagus has a number of problems, not least its structural reliance on damaged parts of the original building. Due to the radiation levels in and around the structure, it was deemed impossible to maintain the Sarcophagus, and a decision was taken in the 1990s to build a new protective structure over the entire existing system.

    The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement (NSC) consists of a barrel vault 92.5 meters tall, 270 meters wide and 150 meters long constructed of steel and polycarbonate. In order to reduce the radiation exposure of those constructing the NSC, the entire structure is being assembled 180 meters away from the reactor itself, and when completed it will be slid on rails into place.

    The Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal

    19th century Chicago had a problem that was common to many rapidly-expanding cities at the time: human waste. However, in Chicago this problem was more acute than in most cities, as the city’s flat plain and slow-flowing river was not conducive to washing away human excrement — not to mention the fact that the city took its drinking water from Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the river. By 1854, the problem was already so bad that a cholera epidemic killed 6% of the Chicago’s citizens, but in the following five decades the city’s booming population only made the problem worse. The river's south fork, known to this day as Bubbly Creek, got the name thanks to the slaughterhouses that lined the river and threw their waste into the water, causing bubbles of methane (which would occasionally catch fire) as the animal corpses began to rot.

    The solution to these problems took place in three stages: first, every building in Chicago was raised by 10 feet (3 meters) to make space for a network of sewage pipes; second, what was at the time the world’s longest tunnel was constructed to extract water from Lake Michigan two miles out from the shore; and finally, when both of these measures failed to produce long-lasting results, the decision was taken to reverse the flow of the river entirely. This was achieved with the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, whose complex construction is covered beautifully in this episode of 99% Invisible. However, the short version of the story is that between 1892 and 1900, the construction of the canal joined the Chicago river with the Des Plaines river, meaning that instead of flowing into Lake Michigan from the Chicago river, water flowed out of Lake Michigan, via the Chicago river and canal, and ultimately into the Mississippi river network. Shortly after the canal was opened, a headline ran in the New York Times sarcastically declaring that "The Water in the Chicago River Now Resembles Liquid."

    Svalbard Global Seed Vault

    Around the world, many countries keep a repository of the seeds of their indigenous flora for emergencies; in case of catastrophe, these seeds act as a backup of their ecosystem. But since 2008, the Norwegian government has also operated the Global Seed Vault, storing samples from countries around the world to serve as the backup to these backups. The complex operates in a similar way to deposit boxes at a regular bank: Norway owns the facility, but the containers of samples themselves are owned by their respective countries, and only they can request access to them.

    The site at Spitsbergen Island was chosen for a number of reasons: firstly, long-term storage of seed samples is best done at cold temperatures, and the icy conditions 1,300 kilometers from the North Pole help to reduce cooling requirements; secondly, the region experiences very little seismic activity; finally, at an elevation of 130 meters it is protected from even the worst predicted rises in sea level. Buried 120 meters deep in a sandstone mountain, the facility is cooled to -18 degrees Celsius, and even in the event of a power failure would take several weeks to warm up to the ambient rock temperature of -3 degrees. Last year, the seed bank had its first withdrawal, after another seed bank located in Aleppo, Syria, encountered problems moving its collection away from the Syrian Civil War.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Floating Piers is the latest and last work of artist duo Christo and Jean-Claude. The floating dock extends over the water of Italy's Lake Iseo.

    The work consists of a three-kilometer walkway wrapped in 100,000 square meters of yellow cloth, which is supported by a floating dock system composed of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes. These elements naturally undulate with the movement of the waves at Lake Iseo, which is located 100 kilometers east of Milan and 200 kilometers west of Venice. The floating yellow roads extend from the pedestrian streets of Sulzano, connecting the islands of San Paolo and Monte Isola.

    The Floating Piers is the first large-scale work of Christo for more than a decade after making The Gates in 2005 with Jeanne-Claude, who passed away four years later. Due to the importance of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work and the inspiration they have given to many architects, we wanted to investigate the process of building this spectacular project, which makes the dream of walking on water a reality.

    SEE ALSO: The 13 coolest neighborhoods in America

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    August 2014: At the textile manufacturer, Setex, 90,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric are produced. (Greven, Germany)

    November 2015: Christo in his studio working on a preparatory drawing for The Floating Piers.

    January 2016: At a factory in Fondotoce at Lago Maggiore, 200,000 high-density polyethylene cubes are manufactured over a period of eight months before delivery to the work site in Montecolino.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    y house 5

    Design firm MVRDV, working with co-architects KAI Architects, has designed a new Y-shaped residence in Northeast Tainan, Taiwan.

    Known appropriately as Y House, the 3,552-square-foot villa will become a standout addition to a new residential development aimed at becoming a weekend retreat for city workers.

    Check it out below. 

    SEE ALSO: The world's tallest temple will be nearly as big as the Eiffel Tower

    A 40-minute drive from Tainan City and the sea, the villa has been designed as a futuristic space for escaping the city.

    The house’s distinctive Y-shaped form is the result of several design decisions.

    To give its residents unobstructed views over the surrounding landscape, the trunk of the structure rises several levels above the height of its neighboring buildings.

    At the top of the trunk, the form expands to give priority to the communal spaces of the house, the living and dining rooms. In turn, this split creates a cradle for a unique rooftop pool and sundeck.

    Additionally, by lifting the main spaces of the house into the sky, the building can maintain a minimal footprint, allowing it to be set into a pool of water surrounded by a garden.

    A series of stepping-stone pathways, positioned according to the principles of Feng Shui, lead homeowners to the front door, giving a tranquil quality to the procession from vehicle to home.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Houses Casa Cabo de Vila   spaceworkers. Image © Fernando Guerra FG+SG

    With two weeks of nominations and voting now complete, we are happy to present the winners of the 2017 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards. As a peer-based, crowdsourced architecture award, these winners were chosen by the collective intelligence of over 75,000 votes from ArchDaily readers around the world, filtering over 3,000 projects down to the 16 best works featured on ArchDaily in 2016.

    The winners, as always, include a diversity of architectural output from around the globe. Alongside high-profile, perhaps even predictable winners — who would have bet against BIG's first completed project in New York or Herzog & de Meuron's long-awaited philharmonic hall in Hamburg? — are more niche and surprise winners, from Nicolás Campodonico's off-grid chapel in Argentina to ARCHSTUDIO's organic food factory in China. The list also features some returning favorites such as Spaceworkers, whose Casa Cabo de Vila brings them their second win in the housing category, repeating their success from 2015.

    In being published on ArchDaily, these 16 exemplary buildings have helped us to continue our mission, bringing inspiration, knowledge, and tools to architects around the world. This award wouldn't be possible without the hundreds of firms that choose to publish their projects with ArchDaily every year, or without those who take part in the voting process to become part of our thousands-strong awards jury. To everyone who took part — either by submitting a project in the past year, or by nominating and voting for candidates in the past weeks — thank you for giving strength to this award. And of course, congratulations to all the winners!

    Read on to see the full list of winning projects.

    SEE ALSO: The 11 best new buildings designed by American architects

    Educational Architecture: Frederiksvej Kindergarten by COBE

    Cultural Architecture: Elbphilharmonie Hamburg by Herzog & de Meuron

    Houses: Casa Cabo de Vila by Spaceworkers

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    LEGO tape nimuno

    As any architect who has played with Legos can tell you (which, let’s face it, is nearly all of us), one of the most exciting yet struggling steps is just starting off on that tabula rasa of the standard, flat Lego base.

    But for anyone looking to build something within the context of their environment, you were flat out of luck.

    Now, that all may be changing, thanks to a new Lego-compatible tape, currently being funded on Indiegogo.

    Lego_Tape_gifCalled Nimuno Loops, the tape roll is lined with Lego block-friendly bumps on one side, and a mild-strength adhesive on the other, giving you the ability to start building on any surface the tape sticks to.

    The flexible strips can be cut and pulled around corners, into curves, and even onto other objects to turn them into custom Lego bases.

    lego tapeThe strength and stickiness of the tape is still a question, but from the teaser video, it certainly seems more than capable of suspending rather large Lego structures even from 90-degree angles.

    The campaign has already reached its goal, but it’s not too late to snag some of the tape for yourself; estimated delivery on the product is expected for this upcoming summer.

    Check out the product for yourself here.

    SEE ALSO: A startup invented this $10,000 house that can be built in one day

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Lego's headquarters is about to get a huge renovation, and it looks amazing

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    Released this month, the website Hoodmaps offers a crowd-sourced mapping platform that gives users the ability to walk through a city like a local. By “painting” parts of the city using a palette of six colors that represent “uni”, “hipsters”, “tourists”, “rich”, “suits”, and “normies”, Hoodmaps aims to provide a quick visual representation of a city.

    The website features a thousand of the largest cities from around the world and is constantly being edited with new user content that flags Google Maps with information about touristy zones of cities among other information. Creator Pieter Levels noted the need for such a service when traveling and being frustrated by the difficulty in finding culture-rich zones of a city as opposed to its commercialized ones.

    If multiple people cover over an area in opposing colors, the most popular will be shown. In addition to color-coding, labels such as “good restaurants” and “too much traffic” can be added to locations. These labels regulate themselves through positive and negative votes, and are able to be tagged “NSFW”.


    Screen Shot 2017 07 19 at 9.24.29 AM


    Screen Shot 2017 07 19 at 9.34.36 AM

    How places in a city are experienced and perceived are an important part of urban design theory. Depending on their material, architects and planners can benefit from the data that websites and apps such as Hoodmaps provide. Because of their easy accessibility, they create a pipeline for the public to input their views on the city and for officials to gauge information.


    Screen Shot 2017 07 19 at 9.36.15 AM

    Despite initial success and acclaim, the website could find itself the company of a variety of crowdsourcing mapping apps that have been criticized for reinforcing negative stereotypes. Most notable of these was an app released 2015 called “SketchFactor” that had users identify locations they deemed “sketchy.”

    Even though the developer’s purpose was to provide alternative crime information, the ambiguity of the term “sketchy” quickly led to posts accused of racism and profiling, eventually escalating to the app being shut down. By allowing mostly unfiltered public input, Hoodmaps is similarly at the helm of its users' biases, which could ultimately lead to a parallel fate.

    New York

    Screen Shot 2017 07 19 at 9.47.50 AM

    The young website is still in the process of editing and expanding, aiming to create functions such as letting users draw and share their own maps. Levels also envisions using the website to draw statistical conclusions and relationships.

    In addition to its technical capabilities, the long-term success of the website will be dependent on its ability to invite quality content that helps locals and tourists discover a city.

    Los Angeles

    Screen Shot 2017 07 19 at 9.28.01 AM

    Visit Hoodmaps here.

    SEE ALSO: Why advertisers should pay attention to Snapchat's new maps feature

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    feature buildings

    Visiting architectural masterpieces by the greats can often feel like a pilgrimage of sorts, especially when they are far away and hard to find. Not everyone takes the time to visit these buildings when traveling, which makes getting there all the more special. With weird opening hours, hard-to-reach locations and elusive tours we thought we’d show a selection from our archives of masterpieces (modernist to contemporary) and what it takes to make it through their doors. Don't forget your camera! 

    NB: All Hours are general hours, make sure to check the country's national and bank holidays when planning your visit!

    Bruder Klaus Field Chapel / Peter Zumthor

    Address: Located in the middle of a field off Iversheimer Road Mechernich, 53894, Germany.

    How to Visit: From the town of Mechernich, the chapel is either a 12 min drive, 35 min bus ride (take the 867 bus from Mechernich Bf station) or if you fancy a walk it should be an approximately 1 hour 30 minute trek (7.5km) through the scenic countryside.

    Tomba Brion / Carlo Scarpa

    Address: Via Brioni, 28, 31030 Altivole TV, Italy.

    Hours: 8AM-5:30PM

    How to Visit: From nearest neighbouring cities Padua and Venice, Scarpa’s Tomb is about an hours drive, if not the nearest bus station is San Vito D'altivole Via Asolana, which can be reached by train and bus from each city (though it takes about 2 hours travel) – the tomb is a short 8 min walk from the station.

    Notre Dame du Haut (Ronchamp) / Le Corbusier

    Address: Notre Dame du Haut, 13 Rue de la Chapelle, 70250 Ronchamp, France.

    Hours: October 17th 2016 to April 2nd 2017: 10AM - 5PM and April 3th to October 15th 2017: 9AM to 7PM – open every day except Jan 1.

    How to Visit: Located on a hill, the church is a 30-min walk from the station Gare de Ronchamp (1.8 km). The station itself is a 30-min drive from nearest city Belfort (France) where trains and bus connections are 1 hours’ journey each way.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    shipping container houses

    • Amazon has started delivering shipping container "tiny" homes that include a bedroom, shower, toilet, kitchenette, and sink.
    • A home costs $36,000 with a flat shipping rate of $3754.49 and is delivered 4-6 weeks later.
    • The alternate choice of housing poses potential legal and sustainability issues.


    The conversion of shipping containers to living spaces is not a new concept—but being able to purchase them online and have them delivered by e-commerce giant Amazon is.

    Deliveries by the Seattle-based (and seemingly endlessly expanding) company are becoming a staple for most American households: dogs have never barked so much at the postman, porches have never been so littered with empty boxes, and never before has almost every product on the market been available from one place without even having to leave the house.

    In spite of this consumer revolution, homes on demand constitutes new territory for the platform. So what does it look like when an entire house is delivered on the back of a truck?

    shipping container design

    MODS International, a third party Wisconsin-based seller on Amazon, are now offering fully converted new shipping containers complete with a bedroom, a shower, a toilet, a sink, a small kitchenette and a living space.

    All that is needed are utility connections and either concrete sonotube footings or a solid concrete slab.

    At 320 square feet (29.7 square meters), the tiny home is modest and tightly packed. But with a relatively flexible interior, the design could be customized to suit the needs of the individual. The cost of the home is $36,000 USD with a flat shipping rate of $3754.49 and an expected delivery of 4-6 weeks, making small-space living more accessible than ever.

    tiny shipping container house

    However, the jury is still out on the success of the container house. Many of the reviewers on the Amazon sale page cite legal issues as a potential deterrent, while others see the potential of the set up as an outhouse or hunting cabin.

    The container house offers an alternative, instant and affordable style of living, and an insight into the potential future of architecture. But crucially, it raises the question of accessibility to both housing and design, and the quality of each, particularly in the face of the housing crises facing many major cities.

    The demands of the populous, and the technology that has emerged to meet those demands, are developing so fast that laws and regulations cannot keep up, allowing these kinds of "rogue" movements to take place.

    shipping container homeLegal and zoning regulations in many states simply do not allow housing this small to be built—which is why you will see many similarly-sized houses in the US on wheels, and thus legally classified as a "recreational vehicle."

    Close to 8% of all housing in the United States is mobile (and closer to 20% in states like South Carolina), suggesting that perhaps the addition of a chassis and wheels may start to resolve some of these issues for buyers of MODS International's shipping container model.

    However, in cases like this, the question is not can we, but should we? With their method of sale granting them a near-exemption from current regulations, how these housing units are distributed and constructed is left to the discretion of the supplier.

    shipping container homeAnd already, a competing seller has offered the same product on Amazon for almost a third of the price—as low as $12,995 + $2000 in shipping—challenging the legitimacy of both offers and perhaps indicating that both the legal complications and the design quality of these homes may be more questionable than they seem.

    Questions around sustainability have also been raised. If the containers are new, they are not addressing the problem of excess at shipping yards, and given the structural compromises made by cutting into the containers, they may have little advantage over more traditional materials and processes.

    Their longevity is also questionable, and perhaps they are in some ways both instant and disposable.

    This idea of an "instahouse," sold online and delivered fully built, speaks volumes about the demands of today’s society, and is perhaps indicative of a new direction for architecture.

    Standardization and accessibility are familiar issues and have been addressed time and time again, yet never with this kind of speed and direct relationship between the consumer and the producer.

    This is the true commodification of architecture and only time will tell what the Amazon effect will truly be on housing.  But for now, if you want an instant house, get one while they’re hot.

    SEE ALSO: You can get the tiny house of your dreams on Amazon

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's why the US Men's team sucks at soccer

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