Could Container Architecture Make Pachacutec Great Again?
While named after a great king, Pachacutec in central Peru might be described as anything but powerful and aesthetically pleasing. Its architectural vernacular indeed is more of recycled building materials put together as an effective slum.
Could a novel approach to home construction using shipping containers change this?
The original Pachacutec
Deposing his father in the 1500s and then defeating the Spanish conquistadors in battle, Pachacutec was one of the greatest Inca kings. He is held responsible for defeating and colonising most of the region, and building the mountain palace of Machu Picchu in the Andes.
Pachacutec was at once king and emperor as well as architect. Most of the Inca architecture that stands today is down to his work. In her 2014 book, Machu Picchu ‘Song of Stone’ Kim MacQuarrie wrote:
“He undertook a major rebuilding campaign, re-organizing the layout of the capital, tearing down old buildings, creating new boulevards, and ordering a host of palaces and temples to be built. All of these were constructed in a new style of stonework that Pachacutec preferred–later referred to as the imperial style–stones cut and fitted together so perfectly that the skill and artistry displayed would eventually become famous as one of the wonders of the New World.”
As with many fallen empires like Great Britain and Greece, today the Inca empire is a shadow of its former self. The architecture of the Inca district of Peru is rather ramshackle, with residents putting together homes with whatever they can manage. Poverty is endemic in the desert town, with water shortages a frequent problem – as here in Australia this has been compounded by climate change.
This appears to be why the Indian architectural design company TRS Studios has undertaken a social project for homes in Pachacutec based on shipping containers and materials that are readily available.
Container construction as compelling as Inca imperial style?
Containers are one building block unused in large numbers around the Latin American country. This appears to be why TRS Studios chose to use two 40 ft containers set side by side as a basis for the home. This gives a space of around four metres wide and just under 15 metres long, or a total footprint of 60 square metres.
Built to house a family of four, the shipping container architecture has a mezzanine deck for a bedroom and an office. Enclosed with a polycarbonate roof, the mezzanine is there to both provide extra space but also not to impede light from reaching the ground floor.
On one side of the home is a kitchenette with an indoor garden. The garden is there in part to produce vegetables but also because vegetation can help keep a home cool in summer and warmer in winter. The other ground floor side is a sitting room area.
Unlike much of the container architecture we review here at the Gateway Gazette, very few cuts have been made into the containers themselves. Just the tops are removed, so there is a wall at full height of the ground floor but the front doors of the home remain too, giving direct access to the space outside. It also allows the home to ‘extend outside’, allowing occupants to have their garden as part of the home and increasing the concept of space within.
The materials, according to Arch Daily, “was of paramount importance for the scheme. The OSB recycled wood boards are manufactured from wood shavings, an eco-friendly, economical, versatile, and durable material. … Recycled polycarbonate plates are also incorporated into the design, with a long life span of 20 years. The material has a high resistance to various climatic conditions and temperature variations, while its transparency or translucency is applicable as curtain walls, translucent facades, skylights, and roofs.”
Looking for second hand shipping containers?
This post is brought to you by Gateway Container Sales out of Brisbane, Australia. We sell on used shipping containers for reuse in a variety of ways, check out our blog for ideas and more articles. If you want to reuse a shipping container in any way you could imagine, contactall our sales team to discuss your needs!