In May 2009 I traveled to Boston where LOT-EK’s Giuseppe Lignano met me to show me his latest creation: a 24-container movable “showroom” that was first introduced at the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race’s Boston stop. The next stop was to be the 2000 South Africa World Cup (I don’t believe it made it there).
The apparel company Puma commissioned this building to act as their brand flagship and to be visible in sporting venues in many different cities around the world. Puma’s mandate was that the finished product should, among other things, be: flexible; easy to transport around the world; radical design; produce little waste when moved; eco-friendly; it should house a store, bar, office, press room and be able to readily connect to 110V or 220V electricity.
The resulting building was a 24-container Puma-red container boxes stacked unevenly so as to accommodate the different uses while creating space between the uses and creating outdoor spaces for events.
Standardized containers came about in the 1960’s and 1970’s and have revolutionized our world in many, many aspects: from where we manufacture our products, to what products we buy, labor rates in different countries, shipping routes, and much more. One of the best books I read happens to analyze the impact of these and other aspects. The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson.
One of the by-products of this boom has been the adaptive reuse of containers that have outlasted their useful life and finding ways to recycle them into, among other things, BUILDINGS.
In the last decade since I started looking into ways to build a better and more efficient building I’ve seen a lot of failed experiments in the adaptive reuse of containers. Giuseppe is one of the very few architects that have been able to do it successfully.