The Orange Box Project – a Shipping Container Home in India
Situated in the Western state of Maharashtra in India, an experimental shipping container home called The Orange Box Project has been built to explore a sustainable and climate-friendly architectural concept of house-building.
Using repurposed shipping containers as a basis for the building, it uses water and glass-wool insulation to minimise the heat of the day, while taking advantage of the dimensions of the boxes to make a large, comfortable family home.
Background to The Orange Box Project
Brothers Mishal and Mikhail Pardiwala had some family land at their home town of Zirad in Maharashtra in Western India. To date the land had been used for growing vegetables and was largely otherwise unused.
The two brothers had already set up and run a business together – TreeWear, a zero waste clothing and cosmetics company – and know each other well enough to move into container architecture as a business.
The core idea of the Orange Box Project is to create an environmentally sustainable home that uses as little energy as possible in its running.
Using six, 40ft high cube containers centred around an open courtyard, the Orange Box is a home with three bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. The home is modular and in theory the concept can be used to create new homes of virtually any size at a very low cost relative to a bricks-and-mortar home.
There are two major problems that face those building homes of steel boxes in their part of the world. The first is the heat and the second, the rain with the annual Monsoon. Glass-wool insulation is used in the building to keep it cooler but this also has a dampening effect on the sound of the rain.
If you imagine standing in a container in a deluge you would find it almost impossible to have a conversation with the hammering precipitation on the roof. The insulation goes far farther though in the overall construction as we will see in the next section.
As with here in Australia, heat is a real problem in Western India – and is set to get far worse with climate change. The Pardiwala brothers focused on passively cooling the home as a core feature of its sustainability.
According to Asian Age, the project took three years from concept to completion.
Mishal said, “Since it is on slightly raised land, the summer heat can get a bit too much. Having visited the site through various seasons, the wind is like a constant force there, so we used it in our favour. The containers act like a funnel, where if you have the wind going through, it can increase the pressure and help ventilate the space much better. The wind doesn’t allow hotter air to sit there. So we have used the containers in spaces we thought it would get hotter, like the common room.”
Setting up the building to take advantage of the prevailing winds wasn’t the only way that the building self-cools. The roof is built to harvest rainwater and this drips down chains in the inner courtyard into a tank that feeds the community well-spring.
According to Mishal, “We have done it this way so that the wind that comes through regularly pushes a pool of water, if any, sitting there through the chains. This kind of cooling is called evaporative cooling. The water in the centre of the area can reduce the heat by a couple of degrees.”
In addition the internal walls of the containers have glass-wool insulation that prevents the home from overheating within. Shipping containers in themselves can become oven-hot in the heat of the day and the insulation keeps that heat on the outside of the home, preventing much of it from coming in.
Utilities don’t impact internal space
Fitting plumbing and electricity into fixed-size metal boxes can reduce the overall living space available in a shipping container home. This is why the Pardiwala family chose to build bathrooms and the kitchen of bricks and mortar, directly abutted onto the containers, so the utilities and ducting doesn’t impact on internal space.
The project as a whole showcases what can be done in building a shipping container home where the climate might otherwise make a group of steel boxes uninhabitable. Energy is an issue that has been carefully thought about with the way the house has been is built.
As with their TreeWear project, the two brothers are using this as a show home for their business. If you visit The Orange Box Project website you can put your own project idea to them for a quote to have a shipping container-based home built for yourself.
Shipping container homes for all weathers
Here at the Gateway Gazette we have covered shipping container based living units built in as diverse climates as Maharashtra and Antarctica. In May 2016 we showed how the Indian government had set up the Bharathi Antarctic Research Station with shipping containers as core construction modules.
We reported, “Even though it is built from 134 recycled shipping containers, the construction has the visual appeal that would not go amiss in an architectural competition. The top floor has a sun terrace and air conditioning units.”
With the Zirad show home at the other end of the climate scale, this goes to show that shipping container construction can adapt to local climate conditions. With proper insulation those inside need not freeze or bake as they go about their daily business. A well thought out system can result in a home that can take whatever climate is thrown at it.
Triggered an idea? Call Gateway Container Sales today!
A well-thought-out design for a shipping container based home or office can be built no matter where you are. It could be in a hot desert, or on a freezing mountainside, and still require relatively little energy to run.
Drop us a line today to discuss buying repurposed shipping containers from us for your own project – contact us at Gateway Containers and we will help you work through your project requirements!