Tag Archives: Architecture news

Architecture Firm Creates Apartments from Shipping Containers

Architects have long experimented with using different materials to build houses. Even in that light, however, a recent building project by architectural firm StarkJames Architecture is a surprising one. Using 16 decommissioned shipping containers, architect Brian Stark has created a complex of eight apartments in Phoenix, Arizona, complete with all the expected modern amenities. Measuring 740 square feet, these unexpected apartments rent for $1,000 a month, and have a wait list at least 150 names long.

A Solid Foundation

While some people might reflexively balk at the idea of living in a discarded shipping container, the idea isn’t as questionable as it seems. According to architect Brian Stark, the outer shell of the containers is much stronger than a typical housing construction. Thanks to their sturdy construction, these shipping containers provide a higher default level of protection than standard house building materials. In fact, Stark says that shipping containers have already found use as housing spaces in Europe; his is simply the first instance of their being converted to apartments in the U.S.

Aside from that, the interiors of the apartments are hardly lacking compared to modern expectations for what a livable housing space should include. Aside from the bathrooms, which are contained in an attached structure to allow for easier plumbing installation, each apartment is formed from two shipping containers, the thick walls of which provide a level of insulation beyond that found in a typical house.

An Affordable Housing Solution?

According to Stark, his plans did cause some puzzlement and trepidation at the City of Phoenix Development Services before the plans were finally approved. Now that they’ve been installed, however, these offbeat housing units have met with approval from both city mayor Greg Stanton and local residents who are now neighbors with people living in shipping containers. Additionally, StarkJames Architecture has already begun drafting plans to build another similar structure even larger than the current one.

Now that the idea has proven usable, the idea of using existing shipping containers to construct affordable housing units may gain more traction. According to official reports, port cities across the country house hundreds of thousands of decommissioned shipping containers. If every set of two of those containers were combined to create a new apartment like has been done in Phoenix, it could create thousands upon thousands of new housing units, each of which could be installed with less work and resources than building a new structure from scratch.

Is Phoenix’s new shipping container apartment complex a part of a trend, or just an architectural curiosity? Only time will tell. Even if the idea never catches on, however, it still presents an intriguing look at how a little ingenuity can lead to creative advances in architectural thinking.

Q-CAD is an architectural firm specializing in the use of CAD architectural drafting. Contact us today at 800-700-3305 for more information on our methods and how we can help you bring your projects to life.



Architecture news

Architects news

Chicago Architecture Biennial Celebrates and Explores the State of the Art

Chicago, Illinois is home to some of the most impressive architecture in the world, from Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) to several notable residential buildings designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright’s influential Prairie School. To that legacy of architectural excellence the city can now add the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the inaugural edition of which will be held through January 3rd, 2016. Hailed as the “largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America,”1 the Chicago Architecture Biennial features the work of over 100 architects originating from over 30 countries, who have all contributed thought-provoking and innovative designs and theories to the exhibit.

Architecture with Real Applications

Unlike those exhibits that are heavy on academic theory and history impenetrable to anyone but the most dedicated architecture aficionados, the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s focus is on structures and principles that matter to the wider world. With the right amount of funding and will, the ideas the architects on display have featured in their work could find their way outside the gallery and into the real world.

Many of the exhibits tackle political hot topics head on. In one exhibit, Vietnamese architect Vo Trong has erected a proposed model for low-income housing, a livable structure that costs less than $3,500 and which can be assembled in less than three hours without the use of power tools, or even training in construction. Another proposal, from local Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, addresses the issue of tension between communities and police by suggesting police stations be used as community hubs with basketball courts, communal dining for citizens and officers alike, and legal law libraries where citizens can educate themselves.

An Experiment in Architectural Vision

The majority of the installations featured in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial are housed in the Chicago Community Center, a 150,000 square foot facility built in 1897 that originally housed the city’s first public library. A total of 82 installations will fill the Community Center until January 3rd, with even more on display in satellite locations, including a specially built pavilion on the shores of Lake Michigan.

While many of the displays focused on simple solutions and architectural methods, at least one of the displays features a stunning display of technological innovation. Rock Print, a display created by the Swiss fabrication experts at Gramazio Kohler Research and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, is the world’s first architectural structure built from only strings and small rocks via robotic arm. Through the use of 3D printing and architectural CAD, Rock Print’s creators have demonstrated a viable model for creating structures that are architecturally sound and environmentally sustainable, using readily available and affordable materials.

Interested in learning more about CAD architectural drafting? Q-CAD has been using CAD to help create its designs for over two decades. Contact us today at 800-700-3305.

Chicago architecture biennial

What CAD and Architecture Stories Are in the News?

During the last few years, the news has been full of stories about how architects, designers, and engineers are using CAD drafting and other technologies to create innovations in the way buildings are planned and constructed. As experts in computer aided design for architectural purposes, we’re always interested in seeing the technology applied in new ways. On that note, here are two recent stories about the intersection of CAD and other groundbreaking architectural techniques.

Dubai to Build First-Ever 3D-Printed Office Building

The United Arab Emirates has had its share of major construction projects in the last few decades, but one of its newest construction projects will be unlike any of the ones that have come before. In partnership with engineering firm Gensler, Thornton Tomasetti, and Syska Hennessy and Chinese 3D printing company WinSun, the UAE will build the world’s first 3D-printed office building, which will serve as the temporary headquarters for the staff of Dubai’s Museum of the Future, and will be constructed in front of the museum’s main structure.

The project is one of the most advanced 3D printing building project ever; even the building’s furniture will be 3D printed. The printer used in the project will stand 20 feet tall, and will produce thin layers of reinforced concrete, gypsum reinforced with glass fiber, and fiber-reinforced plastic. The layers will then be assembled on site, with construction set to begin in October.

The Museum of the Future is a fitting place for such a project. An exhibit of all things cutting edge and futuristic, the museum hosts several 3D printers, and is meant to celebrate the groundbreaking inventions that have allowed the UAE to develop so quickly, and which will allow it to continue to push forward.

Company Proposes Future of Eco-Friendly Structures

Speaking at the recent REAL 2015 conference, Emerging Objects cofounder Ronald Rael spoke of his company’s latest efforts in the realm of using 3D printing to innovate the construction industry. In his words, he spoke of using 3D printers to build structures out of materials that were “durable, affordable, inexpensive and ecological.” Elaborating further, he spoke of a future where buildings were constructed from material such as rubber, paper, salt, and other resources that could be obtained easily, and then transformed into building material by 3D printers, greatly reducing the eco footprint of construction projects and recycling waste material that would otherwise fill up garbage dumps.

Giving one example, Rael spoke about how his company was experimenting with putting discarded tires through a process by which they are cryogenically frozen, and then turned into a powder which can then be used to create 3D-printed objects. Citing the number of 300 million tires thrown away every year, at least 20% of which go into landfills, Rael proposed that the millions of tires thrown away every year could instead be used to create building material.

In addition to rubber, Emerging Objects is also experimenting with turning discarded paper, such as old newsprint, into a 3D-printable substance which can be used to create insulation, and on finding uses for the 70 million tons of paper waste produced in the U.S. every year.

To learn more about Q-CAD’s architectural drafting services, contact us today at 800-700-3305.

Stack of Tires


  1. http://www.architecturaldigest.com/blogs/daily/2015/07/worlds-first-3d-printed-office-dubai
  2. http://3dprint.com/75047/3d-printed-architecture/