Conversion of a 40ft Shipping Container into an Emergency Home Unit

Categories: Building Methods

Roof build-up and drainage The roof was constructed using a similar buildup to the wall structure. Fibreglass was used as the primary waterproofing and drainage outlets were made from a piece of cut pipe.

Building ventilation With a built system where the inner surface is impermeable and airtight, it is essential that condensation from building occupancy is avoided. Thus mechanical ventilation in the shower/bathroom, living area and in the kitchen is necessary. The system used in the Ripple project was an independent system of in-tube heat recovery vents, which typically recover 80-90% of heat. The proprietary unit placed into each ventilation pipe was a Partel ‘e² - with heat recovery’ ventilation unit.

Electrical and heating strategy The electrical strategy and the layout of all of the protrusions through the wall fabric of the container must be decided before any work commences on the container. In the Ripple project, a solar smart meter and a photovoltaic panel were integrated into the system so that the container could supplement its heating by generating its own power. The container’s heating is provided by a stove with a backboiler which provide hot water and space heating via radiators, supplemented by the solar panels. Smoke and heat detection systems were also installed. To retain the aesthetic of the container, the inside walls of the container were left exposed. Therefore all of the wiring had to be surface-mounted with galvanised steel conduits on the walls and ceiling.

Plumbing The container was fitted with a conventional bathroom and kitchen and therefore had to have an appropriate waste water treatment system, percolation and soakway, or a connection to foul and surface area drains. All plumbing fixtures were fitted by a professional.

Exterior and Cladding systems Various cladding systems such as fibre cement or metal are appropriate for use on the facade of the container. Bamboo cladding was donated to the Ripple project by Bamboo Supplies IRL and is proven to be a durable, sustainable and long-lasting material. Vertical timber battens were fixed at regular intervals along the exterior walls of the container to allow drainage of the membrane. All exterior timber was pre-treated against rot. A design decision was made to use different options of cladding. A secondary system of timber battens was attached to the vertical battens, which would support the vertical bamboo cladding. Where the cladding of the facade is horizontal, a secondary system of battens is not needed.

Interior Floor Floor build-up The floor build-up was designed to accommodate thermal insulation and to act as an airtight service zone. A vapour control membrane was placed on top of the container’s existing plywood floor, followed by rigid insulation, then timber battens and an OSB floor. The raised battens allow for the services to be integrated into the floor. It is crucial that the exact dimensions of the layers of the floor buildup are designed to allow level access.

Interior Fit-Out Layout The Ripple project was designed to be a fully-functional home with a living area, bathroom with shower, compact kitchen, storage area and compliant circulation area. The bedroom includes a specific double bunk-bed arrangement that was designed to comfortably sleep four people. Interior finishes The interior finishes were designed by Ciara Smullen of SKI Interiors, Co. Kildare. The steel walls of the container were spray-painted a light grey in advance of construction. The interior walls of the container are timber stud walls with sliding doors built into them. The stud walls are lined with MDV. Instead of plastering, the MDV walls were spray-painted a dark grey in order to eliminate the need for plasterers on-site.

We would like to thank all the sponsors who donated their time, materials and labour to realise this project. We hence complete this project by passing the information of how we built this home as part of a Free E-Book. If you find the information useful we kindly ask you to consider a contribution to SVDP in honour of the Ripple Team. 

Additional information: The booklet contains all the necessary plans, sections and construction details, as well as a thorough description of the construction process, illustrated with photographs. The Ripple container is designed in a way that will allow craftsmen with relatively low skill levels to be able to replicate the design, with input from the relevant appropriately-qualified professionals.

The Ripple Container Home was built between 27-30 November at IMMA. More than 60 professional and trades people, many of them members of Ireland’s business networking group BNI, donated materials and their time and expertise to the project. The container home has been donated to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) for emergency accommodation to house a family in time for Christmas.

The unit with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living areas has now been relocated from IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) in Dublin to SVP’s Deerpark service in Cork city.

For more information on the Ripple container contact:

Michael Malone

Ceardean Architects

086 807 4407

Download our "How To Do It Yourself" Free E-Book

View the Project Video from The Irish Times here!

Read the Press Release here

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