A social housing development in Vancouver is the first in Canada to utilize shipping containers as building materials. The Alexander Street Project is a small housing community built on a site just 25 feet wide. With two buildings and a courtyard, the compact development is a beautiful example of contemporary architecture.
The 12-unit development is home to low-income people and older women who are either previously homeless or at risk of homelessness. The rents are low to allow the residents to have a safe and attractive place to stay without worrying about how they are going to pay the rent.
Each unit is an average of 290 square feet and includes a living room/bedroom, a small kitchen, a full bathroom, and laundry facilities. Although small, the apartments are comfortable and feel like real homes. You would never guess that their shells were once used to ship consumer goods across oceans.
Using shipping containers as the exteriors of the buildings helped keep costs down for Atira Womens Resource Center, the group behind the project. They didn’t put elevators in the three-story buildings, and they struck a balance between cost-saving and making the homes comfortable and attractive places to live. The project has been so successful that the resource center is working on a complementary project that will house young women at risk of domestic violence.