Two RMJM architects, Felix Heidgen, right, and Thomas Nagy, far right, have figured out the most innovative way to put people into boxes, and more specifically, into stacked industrial shipping containers. In doing so, the pair have won the Live the Box contest. The New York Times reports that the genesis of the contest was one of the idle moments that occur in every office dweller’s day. It happens that Christopher Stone, an architect whose offices overlook Newark Liberty International Airport, has an expansive view of shipping containers. One day he focused on them, and saw not just a way to move goods, but also the potential for a way to house otherwise homeless people.
After overcoming his fear that the suggestion would seem inhumane — after all, did he or any of his friends live in a box, or yearn to do so? — he took the idea to his local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. After some back and forth the group saw the potential, but only if the containers could be put together in such a way that there would be lines of people clamoring for a chance to live in them.
A contest was soon born, and a challenge issued. Create a design that not only uses containers as homes — really cool homes — but that also meets urban needs. In other words, there would have to be a lot of stacking involved.
Design entries poured in from all over the world, and Nagy and Heidgen won. Looking at their sleek rendering, it is not hard to figure out why.
A spot has been found for the container condos — across the street from Newark’s Broad Street train station — but construction has not begun.
In this economic climate any groundbreaking may have to wait, but no matter, the idea is out there, and one day low income people, along with their affluent neighbors, may be proud to call a container home.
RMJM, 500 Alexander Park, Princeton 609-452-8888; fax, 609-452-8332. Robert Hillier, vice chairman, RMJM Group. www.RMJMhillier.com.