When it comes to architecture, sustainability and affordability can mean many things: Salvaged wood becomes new flooring, old newspapers are shredded into insulation.
But a few architects are taking green building one step further: creating entire homes and businesses out of discarded shipping containers — an approach some have dubbed “cargotecture.”
“As you look across the container terminal here, they look like giant, multicolored Legos stacked up out there,” says port spokesman Josh Thomas. Each one is full of cargo moving in or out of the Portland region.
Shipping containers are ubiquitous on trucks, trains and ships today; about 20 million pass through American ports each year. But as critical as they are to modern life, the containers date back fewer than 60 years.
“We started to see containerization,” the freight shipping system based on the boxy containers, in the 1950s, Thomas says. “And since then, increasingly, just about anything that can be shipped inside of a container is.”