Shipping containers have proven themselves to be incredibly useful to locations of natural disasters. The large 20 by 40 feet steel structures are used for anything from temporary and permanent housing to protective barriers. The units are optimal for use in disaster areas. They are sturdy enough to withstand further tsunamis or earthquakes, and they can be set up quickly on uneven ground.
Shigeru Ban Architects is currently using recycled portable storage containers as building blocks for temporary housing in Onagawa in the Miyagi Prefecture. The planned housing will stand three stories high and create 188 homes for Japanese citizens who lost their homes in the recent earthquake and tsunami. The March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami misplaced thousands from their homes and destroyed at least 45,000 buildings, 30,000 of which were located in the Miyagi Prefecture.
Shigeru Ban’s creation will not only bring necessary shelter, but it will hopefully lift the people’s spirits as well. The design is aesthetically pleasing and includes bright colors. The houses are arranged in a checkerboard pattern so the residents will not be cramped. One prototype home from this plan has been construction, and the details of water and electric systems are in development now.
Christchurch, New Zealand is still benefiting from storage unit use to recover from the 7.1 magnitude September earthquake as well as the February earthquake. Previously, many homes and businesses had high levels of container rental to recover from the quake. Recently Christchurch has implemented the use of the steel units to line cliffs along highway routes. The large units protect automobiles from falling debris made loose from aftershocks.
The units provide a resourceful, practical, and safe solution to many problems that arise after natural disasters. Both the cities of Onagawa and Christchurch will gain much use from these units while they recover from these horrendous earthquakes. Time will tell if the people of Onagawa and Christchurch may keep the units around after they are fully recovered because of their usefulness.