Denmark tests floating shipping containers as affordable homes

Denmark tests floating shipping containers as affordable homes
WATCH: Recycled and self-sustaining shipping containers are being used as floating homes for students in Denmark.

Shipping container living could be a novel way to create cheap and environmentally friendly student housing in the Danish capital Copenhagen, one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live.

The new Urban Rigger student housing complex, built with containers on a 245 square metre concrete pontoon, is situated just north of the city centre, near landmarks The Little Mermaid and the Opera house. It has a total of twelve flats.

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Architect Bjarke Ingels told Reuters there were many benefits to this type of accommodation.

“These shipping containers have already travelled collectively around 50 times around the Earth and now they’ve arrived here and we’ve placed them together, not like the typical sort of serial line-up that you use for cargo but in this star shape, this hexagonal courtyard that becomes the communal space,” Ingels said.

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“You have direct access to swimming in the clean harbour water of Copenhagen. You have a shared roof terrace, you have a solar roof, you have a green roof and then you have, of course, these amazing, compact, student homes,” he said.

Sustainability was a big factor in the planning and construction of the Urban Rigger, which has seven separate design patents.

Inside the concrete pontoon, below sea level, is the basement, containing a room for batteries that run the heating pump. The batteries, in turn, receive their power from solar panels on the roof.

The complex will use hydra source heating, processing water from Copenhagen harbour through heat pumps into an environmentally friendly and free heating source.

According to the company, they will be CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission neutral.

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The company also says that when an old container is recycled by being re-melted into a new one, it uses 8.5 megawatts of energy to do so. By contrast, upgrading a container for habitation uses, only just 450 kilowatts (Kw) of energy.

The basement includes an individual storage room for each of the 12 flats, as well as a communal room.

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“The special thing about it is, is basically several things – the fact that it’s floating, the fact that it’s 100 per cent recyclable products we’re using, the fact that it’s sustainable because we’re using Hanwha Q-Cell solar panels and we’re using the Grundfos and the Danfoss systems for the heating and the pumps. The fact that it’s floating and is in used second-hand containers makes it pretty special,” said Urban Rigger CEO Kim Loudrup.

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Despite its waterside location, the houses will be affordable and suitable for students. To begin with the accommodation will be rental only, costing around 650 Euros (729 USD) per month.

Alexander Loudrup, who studies at University of Copenhagen, said the flats had all the essentials he needed and believes the location might even improve students’ studying.

“By living in one of these, you will be able to live a very healthy life because you’re not living in the middle of the city, you’re living by the water where the air is clean and also you’ll be away from the distractions and sounds of the city so you’ll be able to concentrate on your work,” he said.

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The first students are set to move in by the end of October.

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In the Swedish city of Gothenburg 24 inter-connected Urban Riggers will be delivered by the end of 2017.