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Shipping Container House Conversion

I’ll start talking about this building. I do not know if you know it. It is the new Cruise Ship Terminal in the Port of Seville. This building’s most remarkable characteristic is being built with recycled shipping containers. All its construction is 97 recycled. That is, the vast majority of the materials we can see now had another life before. We have reused them. Except for the glasses and few more things, all those are shipping containers that have already had its life. To begin speaking about this building, I would like to show you this point here which is our building site.

That’s the site where we build all of our buildings. That site, you know what it is, don’t you It is Earth. Earth from 6,000 million kilometers. The farthest spacecraft we have, which is the Voyager 1, was at that distance and made this picture. This indicates how limited we are there in our little world. That is, our world is finite. We have limited resources and thus we have to be smart when using them. We have called this speech Science, Sustainability and Architectures. Science gives us a perspective of the problems.

This other photograph was captured by the Apollo XVII. It is incredibly beautiful and gives us a perspective of how beautiful Earth is and how limited it is. We can not leave here by now to continue spending more resources. And we are 7,000 million. From this we have to lay the groundwork for solving this problem. At this zoom we are doing we arrive to Seville. And in Seville the opportunity of building a new passenger terminal.. in an area that belongs to the Port of Seville appears. In the past, ports looked more or less like this.

Designing The Cruise Ship Terminal in Seville. Science, Sustainability And Architectures 2.

There was no relationship problem between the port and the city..because the port was just a sandy beach where the boats came from time to time. Longshoremen unloaded by hand. There was no particular conflict. After the industrial revolution, ports began to be mechanised and to set heavy traffic through the port areas. As a result, they had to build a fence that separated the town from the port and indirectly the river from the town. This project is about that. How you can connect port, town and river. Because in the end, making things sustainable is to think of the context and to adapt to the context.

Adaptation to the environment is also an adaptation to the context. Originally the port was in an area just off the centre of Seville. That is now the current area of Arenal. When the port started its industrialization and its activity became incompatible with its location in the town center, the port moved away to the south where it is now. But in between many beautiful urban spaces remained, belonging to the port but integrated in the historical town centre. There, the cruise ships up to a limited draught disembark. It is a beautiful site near the centre of Seville.

This debarkation site is near the Plaza de Espaa, the pavilions of the IberoAmerican Exposition of 1929, Maria Luisa Park, the General Archive of the West Indies. How did the Port solve this before Well simply by a tent. A tent that worked very well indeed. Its great advantage was that it could be removed at any time. It solved the passengers debarkation, who were quickly placed in the town centre. A cruise ship of this kind usually arrived at Seville every month or 15 days. When the ship disappeared, the tent was removed and that’s all.

That was sustainable and it was great. But perhaps, the feeling of entering Seville through a tent.. was not worthy of a town like Seville. Because it looks improvised. The Port wanted to improve this and proposed to build a slightly more permanent installation. By a little more permanent, I mean it had to keep some ability to move, to be multifunctional, to be extended. But it had to be more architectural. It had to better resolve the relationship with the Port, the relationship with the town. The port began to consider the possibility of placing prefabricated modules.

But what do we mean by prefabricated modules or containers architecture Unfortunately we usually understand something like this. Something that degrades the site where it is placed. You solve a problem but you’re actually creating another. The provisional lecture halls of the University of Seville, the marginal groups’ settlements In the end, these are situations that degrade the urban environment and are felt by the town as failures. That’s what we should not do. We must not just stack containers here to solve the problem as if it was a construction site office, because we are in the town historical centre.

Therefore another strategy is needed. What is the strategy That of the architectural project. That is, the idea is to use containers as a material for a project like any other architecture. That takes into account all the considerations that an architectural project has. Not only to solve in the most economical manner the functional problem and that’s all, but to think about the place, to think about the spatial qualities, in many matters that have to do with the architectural projects. That has been our bet in this project. Thinking that containers are not but just a material for a project.

In this case the idea was to think that containers are a great material to make a cruise ship terminal in the dock. There is nothing more natural in a dock than a shipping container. We began to see many things. There are plenty of projects on the internet. Some of them were even built. They are in different countries. Most of these projects are solved as a massive accumulation of containers remembering much how they are stacked in a port. A sort of irregular mass in different colors. We opted for a different idea.

We chose to create a repetition rhythm because we thought it would be unnoticed in the port environment. That is, a building that has no head or end, it is continuous,..it looks as an infrastructure rather than a building. It reminds of the lights and shadows rhythm of wharf pilings, as you can see in the model. It is related to port infrastructure. But also, being really a port infrastructure..that relates to the town. The town must be taken into account. Think of the level of the wharf where the building is located.

The wharf’s level is lower than the surrounding town level. This allowed us to play with this strategy. The most massive part of the building could be placed here and it would pass completely unnoticed from the surrounding’s higher level. And maybe, the upper part of the building could be discontinuous so it does not hide the view of the river. That could be interesting. After that, the proposal is studied in 3D models that are placed in urban environments that reproduce well the real spaces. Representing the real topography, we can check how the building looks.

Then we study a way to make this architecture look spatially attractive,..get free from the limitations of using containers and be economical. What are the limitations of using a container The width is 2.44m. The height is 2.69 if it is a standard container or 2.89 if it is a High Cube. They are two different types of containers. What is the impact of this The container generated architecture, which we have seen and sometimes visited, is mostly housing architecture. Those small dimensions are used to create rooms. Because of these limitations, few architectures with large open concept spaces as we needed had been made out of containers.

We studied a way to do it. How On one hand to get the open concept space, we cut out the side walls of the container as much as possible..to create the main space transversally to the main container’s axis. We never used the container’s longitudinal space, which is limited to a width of 2.44m Then vertically we played with a chess checkerboard arrangement where there is a container down here,..there’s nothing here, and here again there is a container. The upper container is supported by two separated lower ones.

The upper container’s floor is cut out and placed at the level of the lower ones’ floor. The composition is spread and a succession of singleheight space, doubleheight space is generated. This greatly enhances spatial sensations. We had to create a wide open space of about 500m2. If we had left all the space with the height of a container,.. 2,89m outside and about 2.69m inside, the inner space would have become too tight. Thanks to these alternating doubleheight spaces, the internal space seems bigger. It is also a bioclimatic strategy as we shall see.

As you can see here, the spaces are arranged transversely to the longitudinal axis of the containers. For this, we studied the maximum opening that could be cut out from the walls of the containers..to create those spaces without compromising the original structure of the container. One important thing for this space to work If we were going to create a multifunctional open space, which is what the programme asked for, then we also proposed this service space. Why Because if you want this to fulfill different functions,.

. there will be the stuff related to the different functions that we have to store somewhere. This is fundamental. These are served spaces and those serving spaces. Spaces need this organization to work. It is a key for project’s design. These doubleheights also perfom as skylights. The north side of these upper containers is open. So the sun is reflected on the south side walls and indirectly enters through these north window openings. A soft lighting is achieved and direct radiation is avoided,.. which is the big problem we face here in Seville.

These are the elevations. You can see the checkerboard disposition I mentioned before. And this is an issue that you will probably face throughout the development of the master course. A thermodynamic strategy is designed. This building made of metal could be overheated by the sun. When you know somebody is building a container building in Seville, the first thing you think is it will become an oven. We also thought so. Therefore we developed a strategy to neutralizecounterbalance this. That strategy is the form and the white colour of the building.

It is a form that is not compact, as you can see, but it shades itself. Contrary to what is said, this low compactness strategy is appropriate for Mediterranean climates Radiation is prevented from entering the eastwest openings because the window glasses are very deep into the volume between the side walls of the containers. So that the jambs will always protect those glasses. White colour reflects 90 of the solar radiation And spatially, the volume has those doubleheight spaces that gather up the hot air in the upper part thanks to air buoyancy.

That is fundamental. Hot air goes up, cold goes down. So if we generate a high space, that’s where the hot air will go. This frees the lower parts from reaching extreme temperatures This is a very clear thermodynamic strategy. But if the upper container is also permanently open on both sides.. In the main directions of the prevailing winds eastwest, we can remove the accumulated heat at the top, getting a big air renovation. Later we will see that, in the Mediterranean architecture, what we have to do as a fundamental strategy is to shade and ventilate.

That way you get energy savings that cannot be achieved by any other system. In fact this is an extreme building. Why Because it has no insulation! Apparently this goes against the Technical Code regulations. But it really complies with it as we shall see. This building is a construction that does not have air conditioning. How could we make that habitable Thanks to the bioclimatic strategies described. Reducing the inside temperature 5 to 8 degrees lower than the outside temperature. And also because this construction is not a building but an installation.

Otherwise it would not comply with the Technical Code regulations. It is a building that works with all its doors open and it is considered as a protected outside space. The Technical Code is complied with in some way. This is possible because it is not designed as housing for people permanent stay because it was not required. You’d think all this seems a fraud a building that does not really complies with the performances of a building, which is not a building. But for us, Hombre de Piedra Architects, the basis of sustainability is doing only what is required.

Why would you build an airport if you do not expect airplanes coming It makes no sense. Why making buildings with great features that are not going to be used If you can limit what you design to the minimum required, you save materials, energy and money. We managed to make this building because we offered the best budget. In the end, the basic principle is not to do what is not required. And this, that seems only a limitation, allows doing very interesting things when integrated as a premise of the project.

If you try to solve the standard features without reflecting if they are required, it is difficult to obtain a so powerful building that explores unconventional radical solutions. The construction of this building is also a bit special. The building is not built, it is manufactured. It is manufactured in a warehouse in Lucena Cordoba, Spain. There’s where all the containers arrived. They were transformed according to the project. They were modified by cutting the metal sheets and making the reinforcements. All this was done inside a covered site, in a place that was more an industry than a construction site,.

. with much higher control and safety than in the construction site. The quality will always be better if you are able to build a modular building or rather.. manufacture a modular building in a factory rather than onsite. For example, outside it was raining during all that month. Because this was manufactured during a month in the warehouse and then.. moved to its location and assembled in just 15 days. This speed is another advantage of this system and also leads to a higher sustainability. If we make a building with these features, because it suits well to fit certain needs,.

. we save a lot of energy and money while reducing execution time. And the factory can do things that can not easily be done at the construction site. Such as testing solutions or systems. This way you are sure that they will work. A meccano is manufactured, where everything is tongueandgroove jointed, numbered and tested. Then we transport it and we know that everything will work perfectly onsite. These tests seem not possible at a conventional onsite construction. Either you pour the concrete or you do not, but you cannot test to pour it.

On the contrary, at the warehouse you can make these tests. Furthermore, the execution is more accurate. Paints are applied dry, for example. Finally, control and safety at a factory are better than onsite. All disassembled, numbered is transported. Knowing that everything is going to work because it’s been tested at the factory. And it all starts to put together like a big puzzle. It is a completely screwed puzzle instead of soldered so it can be dismantled at any time and transported. Also designed so that it can be expanded. That is, flexibility is another value of sustainability.

This building, which has already been other things before as shipping containers,.. it can be further developed being transformed into other buildings. Maybe you can move it when you see that is outdated for its use. Or is insufficient and a greater one is needed. The building can also be easily extended adding modules to the series. That is, we must not think of the buildings as something fixed for a fixed requirement. Requirements can change and buildings should do with them. Precisely for this use the actual needs were not well known or easy to predict. Because no one knew for sure when the next cruise ship was coming.

It was known from one year to the next. But it seemed that the frequency would increase the next year but not the following one. The growth of passenger traffic was not known. It was a mystery. It seemed crazy to make something fixed, of concrete, for a need that is not surely known. You can either build too much or not enough. You can either build too much or not enough. Therefore flexibility adaptability is an issue of sustainability. After 15 days of assembly, this building is ready. A building that is accurate, which reuses materials and.

. that shows its technology when you get nearer. But the most important thing using prefabricated modular architecture.. has always been used to solve an emergency.. but this building also tries to get integrated into the urban environment as any permanent architecture. Look at how the building responds to the the horizontal lines of the bridge deck. This picture is taken from the centre of Las Delicias’ bridge looking towards Los Remedios’ bridge. The bridge deck is gathered by these horizontal lines, the wharf rhythm is also reflected in the repetitions of the building.

I mean the insertion into the urban landscape responds to a reflection on architecture. I say this because this type of solution is commonly used while thinking about other things. The kind of thinking of what is useful, cheap, fast. But then you install it and it is a crappy, ugly filth, which nobody likes. Nobody will accept it for a long time and it will be removed. However this may be here 5 years or 50 years. It’s alright because it is been planned for the site. And it does not take value away from the urban environment. On the contrary, I think it adds more.

This here is the same. The design includes the lines of the wharf foundations under the edge of the wharf,.. the lines of the bridge deck. Transparence. The picture is taken from the district of Los Remedios on the opposite bank to the building. The skylights are separated elements that allow you to see the other side in between them. That makes the building get inserted in a lighter way than just a massive container stacking. Furthermore, this high coefficient of form, the relationshipquotient between the surface and the interior volume,.

. the long spreadexpansion of all that envelop, is consistent with the Mediterranean architecture. We will explain this better later. Here these alternating lights and shades basement that have to do with light and dark are building. So the building is part of this world of docks and not part of this other world of historical buildings. So it respects the historical architecture. Before we could see the Giralda tower. Nobody thinks we’re trying to compete with these buildings. The terminal is a neutral background for this historical architecture. Our building has a low profile that tries to pass unnoticed in the landscape. This is a value of the building.

But as you approach, suddenly, the cantilevers, that are spectacular, start to get your attention. You begin to notice details and begin to see that the building is not at all ordinary. That is what we want the passenger to think. Anyhow, the terminal is been made for him. This is the point of view of a ship passenger. He begins to discover details of the technology, of the qualities, that attract his attention. These heads are the upper containers. We wanted them to be clearly recognized as individual containers when you get nearer by the river.

We did not want the containers to pass as other thing. We wanted to be true to their industrial character. Besides projecting as a cantilever as fingers trying to touch the boat is a gesture that looks to the passenger. In a grateful way, these heads are set to receive him. These jutting volumes are also used as reflectors.. for indirect lighting to illuminate diffusely without dazzle all around the wharf until the edge. Look how the doubleheight spaces look like inside of the building. They look quite baggy.

The building is meant to represent what it really is both outside and inside industrial architecture. We did not try to hide it. We did not try to embroider it. How could we do this Well, partly because we had no money. This is a great advantage. And because the building has no insulation. They are possibilities offered by limitations. It is commonly thought that the world of limitation is an area where you can do nothing but one only thing. We believe it is not always so. When you put limits to yourself you get to design things that otherwise would be impossible.

The fact that one can see the corrugated metal sheet both inside and outside the containers,.. it is something that can rarely be seen in a transformed container for building. They are usually cladded with plasterboard interior finishings with insulation, etc. Here we could leave the metal sheet uncladded, it can be seen. The floor is the original wood flooring of the containers. Each of these containers has traveled an average of 1,100,000 km. This is 29 trips around the earth three times the distance to the Moon. We know this from records of the containers 17 years old.

These containers have a story that we let the building give a glimpse of. Look at how this sequence of structures changes when these doors are open.. and when they are closed. They are now open and the building is transformed into a fully opentotheoutside construction. This reveals the transformation ability flexibility and multifunction use of the building. This light and shade alternating of the building.. makes the large main open space not a boring space.. but a space that is patterned by natural light, with rhythm.

And those remaining structural elements that we have to see because they are necessary for stability,.. after cutting out of the walls the maximum possible openings.. instead of being an impediment or an obligation,..they are something that contributes to the character of the space. Like structures in the traditional architecture of the old industrial buildings..that needed these massive buttress structure elements to be sustained. That is the original container floor that I commented before. Well. And this is when the first ship arrived, which was really exciting. We doubted if the building would work well enough.

Outside the temperature was about 30 degrees. Inside it was about 25 or 24 degrees. It felt ok inside. The truth is that both the cruise ship agency and the port and users.. were delighted of its proper functioning as a cruise ship terminal. But besides functioning as a cruise ship terminal, it is now a centre or container of cultural activities in Sevilla. There are expositions, concerts. The days where no cruise ship is arriving.. the building is taken by the city to host cultural events. This is also sustainable. To create a flexible space that can be used for different functions.

If cruise ships are docking only every 15 days or a month,.. are we going to have that building closed during that interval It’s a missed opportunity. It is better to serve for other things at the same time. That is sustainable. For a building that has cost only 300,000 euros, including the project,.. the exploitation that it is achieving is great. This is very different from the overambitious public architecture that we could see..in the years before the crisis and that has helped leading us to an unsustainable situation.

Well, even fashion shows have been hosted there, using the same space. And really, what ship passengers see as they get nearer the building is a curious thing. At first, it is not recognized. No one knows in the beginning what it is. It’s very abstract. But as you’re getting closer, your interest increases, which is what we wanted. And especially when you enter it, you realize that everything is not Baroque in Seville,..but there is also contemporary architecture, contemporary art. It is a way to open the visitor’s mind to other possibilities.

This is a clear intention of the whole project. I’ll finish talking about this building with this image of Miguel Fisac. Miguel Fisac said that technical solutions give rise to formal solutions of interest. In this picture, he is on one of his prefabricated elements, designed by himself. These are some of his inventions that permitted him generate architecture. He was tired of so much talk about architecture, so much poetry vacuous and so much drag..and he said that if you are able to invent a technical element like this.

.you can generate with it a more powerful architecture rather than with hermeneutics. There comes a time when you end up agreeing with that philosophy. A powerful technical solution can effectively solve the architecture as seen in the tower of Jorba Laboratories by Fisac. It gives a character to the architecture which other theories cannot and architectural history shows so. Finally, the structure may generate architecture, without anything else. In the case of the containers building,..the structure that supports the building itself is generated by the architecture. You do not need anything else. If you study it well, that is enough.

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