Calgary developer thinks outside the box with shipping container hotel

Click to play video 'Canadian company converts old shipping containers into new housing' Canadian company converts old shipping containers into new housing
WATCH: A Prairie company is taking affordable housing to the next level, by thinking outside the box. Reid Fiest explains what it's doing with a waste product of international trade.

CALGARY — A new 63-room hotel in Bruderheim, Alta. will offer suites like any other — two queen sized beds, a private bathroom and an upscale kitchenette. But the Studio 6 hotel, slated to be completed this fall, won’t be your typical brick-and-mortar building.

Calgary-based Ladacor Adanced Modular Systems is constructing the four-floor hotel using old steel shipping containers.

“We take multiple shipping containers and we’re able to integrate them into a larger module,” Ladacor president Joe Kiss explained.

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Crews cut the steel boxes apart, then weld them together to create ready-made hotel suites, meeting rooms — even the lobby.

Workers at Calgary-based Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems work on an old shipping container that will be turned into one of 63 suites in a new hotel.
Workers at Calgary-based Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems work on an old shipping container that will be turned into one of 63 suites in a new hotel. Mike Gill/Global News

All of it will be trucked from trucked to the hotel site, 300 kilometres north to Bruderheim, and assembled there.

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The second storey of the hotel is already assembled and new modules are coming off the factory floor every week.

Kiss explained there’s a glut of the old shipping containers piling up on Canadian shores.

“There’s a trade deficit with China, so the shipping containers come over and they can’t be shipped back empty,” he told Global News.

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This is the second hotel Ladacor has built using containers — the first was a Days Inn that opened in Sioux Lookout, Ont. in December 2014 — and now it’s contracted to build its first residential building in Edmonton.

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Ladacor will manufacture 20 affordable apartments for Step Ahead Properties, on a site that already has 40 units. The project is currently waiting approvals from the City of Edmonton.

The company says not only is the cost competitive with wood construction but the building can be completed between faster, which is great for the bottom line.

“The end-to-end construction of this project is shorter than [a] traditional build, therefore we save on our financing costs,” AJ Slivinski, president of Step Ahead Properties, said.

The innovative method is also being eyed by rural affordable housing advocates in Alberta.

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Dee Ann Benard, executive director of the Alberta Rural Development Network, said smaller communities struggle to find contractors willing to travel to their towns to build housing at a reasonable cost.

she said the recycling containers into low-cost homes is a big attraction, not only because of the sustainability aspect.

“You don’t have to worry about a fire taking down the whole unit. They’re mould resistant because they’re made out of metal. They have a long life, they can [also] be recycled in the end,” Benard said.