#8 Cargotecture: scaling up shipping container construction

Floating along Copenhagen’s central waterway is a new proposition in affordable student accommodation, Urban Rigger. Each of these 745m2 units starts with a central concrete pontoon supporting nine steel shipping containers, which between them host 12 studio apartments for student accommodation. Launched as a solution to the student housing crisis in the Danish capital more units are set to follow and Denmark is not the only place exploring the use of shipping containers for housing. The fast construction times, energy efficiency, flexibility and modularity are seeing a growth in adoption beyond just housing with the commercial and hospitality sectors exploiting their benefits.

But the technology is not new. The most well-known example of shipping container architecture, known as cargotecture, is the Keetwonen development in Amsterdam where 1,034 shipping container homes were delivered at a rate of 150 per month, providing much needed low cost student accommodation to this busy city. Originally intended as a five year temporary housing fix the units are still there twelve years later, and this is something that today’s developers are acknowledging. As these properties show their longevity the business case is growing and proponents are seeking to scale up production planning factory style manufacturing. However significant challenges must be overcome if these units are to take off, from planning hurdles to financing models.


Bjørn Nørgaard, chief operating officer, Urban Rigger

Jesper Dirk Andersen, head of marine design, Urban Rigger

Dave Stone, founder, By The River Brew Company

Jon Johnson, chief executive, Reach Homes and the National Federation for Affordable Building