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Downtown Los Angeles Experiences a Boom in Shipping Carg...

Downtown Los Angeles Experiences a Boom in Shipping Cargo Container Architecture

Since residents of Los Angeles understand that environmental issues and sustainability are important, there is always a search for building materials that are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. The latest trend to hit downtown Los Angeles – cargo shipping containers. While the idea of a shipping container replacing an actual building sounds absurd to some, a portion

Shreebs Coffee, Los Angeles, California, United States

Since residents of
Los Angeles understand that environmental issues and sustainability are important, there is always a search for building materials that are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. The latest trend to hit downtown Los Angeles - cargo shipping containers. While the idea of a shipping container replacing an actual building sounds absurd to some, a portion of business owners in Downtown LA would disagree. The business owners have adopted the idea and housed their businesses in portable shipping containers. These shipping containers could be a cheaper alternative for current building costs and have the potential to be more widely implemented in the future.

Two business owners in downtown Los Angeles have decided to house their businesses in cargo shipping containers. The Juice and Shreebs Coffee, located in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles, are two examples of the endless possibilities that shipping containers provide. These two businesses have opted to house their businesses in shipping containers instead of traditional buildings because of the aesthetic, cheap cost, and versatility. According to them, shipping containers “ the perfect combination of classic and new at the same time,” which allows them to fit perfectly within the arts district. The use of metal shipping containers allows the business owners to be flexible and try something new in a cost-efficient way. Usually, standard buildings cost three or four times more than a shipping container due to the cost of laying a foundation and more costly building materials. On the other hand, shipping containers are portable for easy implementation, and pre-made, reducing costs significantly. The amount of accessible shipping containers is not an issue either because there are so many leftovers that are not able to be sent back to where they came from. After all, it is more cost-efficient not to ship an empty cargo container back to Asia.

Shreebs Coffee, Los Angeles, California, United States

On the other hand, shipping containers may not be as energy efficient or friendly for the environment as one may think. At first glance, they do seem to conserve energy; however, when the energy that is used to transform the shipping container into a supportable space is taken into account, shipping containers actually produce a great amount of energy and waste. In addition to that, shipping containers can also contain many harmful chemicals that are used to make them durable for overseas transport, negatively impacting humans and the environment.

The boom of shipping containers as residential and commercial structures could mean more business for distributors of cargo shipping containers. In fact, there are companies that specialize in projects that utilize shipping containers. One specific company, named International Port Management Enterprise, claims there is demand up to the point where they cannot keep up. If this trend continues, shipping containers could be abundant in Los Angeles.

Are there any shipping container buildings in your city? Do you think metal shipping containers have a future? Do you believe shipping containers should be repurposed as buildings? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources. 

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Sophia is an undergraduate student majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. From a young age, she's been fascinated in how structural engineering shapes Los Angeles' society and environment.

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