Increasing density and rising rental prices in major cities around the world are phenomena that are not expected to change anytime soon. With that in mind, and the number of single-person households also on the rise, significant urban challenges can be expected to arise in the near future. These challenges will be exacerbated by the fact that in many cities, such as Copenhagen, the housing demand is not being met. This provokes architects to address such issues with innovation and revolutionary ideas. Today, many new units being built are becoming increasingly smaller, which is redefining the traditional household through a much more contemporary and sustainable approach.
The world renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG, in collaboration with Kim Loudrup, the founder of Urban Rigger, seeks to offer a solution to the growing demand of affordable student housing with his design of upcycled shipping containers – the latest addition to a string of proposals using shipping containers as a model for affordable housing.
The project named Urban Rigger is a floating and carbon neutral property. It comprises of nine shipping containers stacked and arranged on a floating base, creating 15 living spaces articulated around a common green courtyard. There is a total of 680 m2 of floorspace split between housing, the courtyard, kayak landing point, barbecue area and bathing platform. In addition, the student housing includes a communal roof terrace and a basement level with 12 storage rooms, laundry room, and a technical room. Aside from the exterior, the rooms of Urban Rigger are really attractive and spacious. The large floor-to-ceiling windows create a light-filled interior with simple furnishings and unfinished wood to complement its raw exterior.
To address the concern of insulation, BIG has lined the containers with a highly-insulating aerogel developed by NASA. The environmental benefit of upcycling shipping containers is one thing, but the project’s sustainable approach are affected in other ways, too. Electricity is produced by a roof-based solar array, while a heat exchanger system uses the seawater it floats on to efficiently heat and cool the interiors.
Kim Loudrup’s idea was to develop an innovative floating dwelling system that would have a positive impact on the student housing situation, while creating an attractive and unique setting. With the combination of Copenhagen being one of the ten costliest cities in the world to live in and its kilometers of unused harbor, Urban Riggers, this fleet of mobile, sustainable dwellings, seems to be the obvious solution for students and others in urgent need of affordable housing.
Magnus Høst is a freelance creative consultant and editor based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Magnus helps brands connect (or re-connect) with consumers through visual storytelling. His consultancy and multidisciplinary approach is based on trend forecasting, an understanding of contemporary culture and lifestyle.