« more RISD stories
RISD alumni Peter Gill Case and Joe Haskett present their office space built from shipping containers. Photo by David O'Connor.
A collaborative triad between RISD, Brown University and a
team of RISD alumni has designers and architects thinking outside the box. Or,
in this case, redesigning the box entirely.
The three partners have teamed
up to design and potentially commercialize an off-the-grid,
sustainable and energy-efficient home built from creatively repurposed shipping
containers. At an event held last week at RISD, RI Senator Jack Reed announced that the Partnership for Sustainable Development had been awarded a $150,000 federal grant from the Small Business
Administration to further develop the idea and explore its potential. Reed
lauded the project as “elegant and cost-effective” and noted that the
collaboration has strong potential not only to create jobs, but also to respond
to long-term housing needs and provide disaster assistance around the globe.
The idea for using shipping containers is the brainchild of
Providence-area architects and RISD alumni Peter Gill Case MArch 97/Brown 83 and Joe Haskett MArch 02. The two have already achieved local notoriety for The Box Office, a colorful and vibrant
office complex that uses 32 recycled containers as building blocks. Developed
as a response to the economic downturn, the project was conceived as a building
that could thrive under uncertain economic conditions and has already
established itself as a model for energy efficiency and creative
collaborations. Haskett and Gill Case’s plan to extend the containers’ use into
affordable housing was selected as a pilot for new ‘green’ business models in
Rhode Island from a field of over 50 applicants.
As a result, this spring RISD students from Interior Architecture, Architecture and Industrial Design are developing design
plans and researching their viability as part of a RISD course called Re-BOX. They will then team up with the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and
Entrepreneurship [RI-CIE] at Brown University to explore how to bring them
Taught by RISD professors Markus Berger and Peter Dean, the advanced
interdisciplinary design studio aims
to teach design, business and sustainability simultaneously, says Dean. “Beyond
the idea of adaptive reuse, the class re-investigates mobility, fabrication,
energy and green design,” notes Berger. Students in the class are developing 16
practical, affordable and sustainable uses for the containers including art
galleries, urban farms, community centers and even emergency disaster shelters
that can be quickly put in place in crisis situations.
By linking the design process with economic and
sustainability issues, the studio’s final presentations will integrate business and marketing plans with energy and
sustainability schemes, as well as architectural drawings and models. Gill Case and Haskett are serving as critics
throughout the process.
Beyond their collaboration with RISD and Brown through the
Partnership for Sustainable Development, the
two alumni are continuing to explore further uses for shipping
containers as modular buildings through their new company UbiGO. “There are
thousands of empty shipping containers piling up in US ports,” says Gill Case,
explaining that the containers allow the firm to promote green building principles
and offer high quality design at affordable prices. “These modules can be
manufactured locally and shipped globally,” he points out – which means that these
innovative designs will both stimulate the local economy and help solve
housing crises around the globe.
The Box Office
RI Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RI-CIE)
RISD, Brown share SBA grant to create modular housing from shipping containers (Providence Journal)
tags: adaptive reuse
, Industrial Design
, Interior Architecture