Malcolm McLean — the great transport entrepreneur who developed the modern intermodal shipping container — transformed the global economy by facilitating cost-effective transportation of goods across the world. McLean, though, might not have foreseen the build-up of excess containers over time due to trade imbalances. This build-up led architects to explore transforming shipping containers into useful buildings.
Now, Bengal’s own Maulana Abul Kalam University of Technology (Makaut) has joined the race to pioneer — through a research project — re-use of discarded shipping containers left to rust in shipyards. The research explores building shops, counters, schools, offices and even residential houses with these containers. These facilities can be built in an eco-friendly manner and will be easily transportable.
Makaut vice-chancellor Saikat Moitra launched the research project on Monday by inaugurating a provisions store made from a discarded shipping container on the university’s main campus in Haringhata. Another container is being developed as a cafeteria.
Moitra said, “This is, perhaps, the first initiative by any university, in which a project is being implemented by reusing discarded shipping containers that are otherwise left unused at various yards.”
“Construction with discarded shipping containers less expensive compared to conventional methods. It is quicker to set up too. Moreover, these are recyclable,” he added. The VC added that Hidco chairman Debashis Sen had sent a team to look into the project.
Besides being cost-effective and eco-friendly, these ‘container buildings’ — as they are called — are also strong. After all, shipping containers are made of steel for long journeys across oceans. Their ability to withstand wear and tear, handle extreme loads, and last for decades also means that cargo containers have related benefits when used for construction.
Builder Pradip Chopra, the chief guest at Monday’s event, said,” The use of discarded shipping containers for construction has been done in the US, Europe and Asia. It was also done in some Indian cities.” He pointed out that he has witnessed such reusable containers being used to construct schools in rural localities. “Makaut students can immensely benefit from such projects, which will push them to think innovatively,” Chopra added.
MAKAUT assistant registrar Anup Kumar Mukherjee said container houses will improve the aesthetics of the university campus.
Source: Times of India