|MULU PROMISE PLAZA / MULU CONTAINER VILLAGE|
|Friday, 28 October 2011 14:00|
Sustainable, Modular and Cost Effective Container Units
There are about 18 million shipping containers traveling around this worldon ships, trains and trucks or otherwise stacked in ports and other temporary locations. These containers make over 200 million trips per year and have a life span of about 10 years, after which, according to ISO standards, they are no longer deemed seaworthy. Hence, roughly 1.8 million units are decommissioned every year and replaced by new containers. Although an increasing amount of these decommissioned containers are recycled, many are found clogging shipyards and dumpsites all over the world. In most cases, only minor defects or simply reaching the predefined life span negate their usefulness – at least for shipping purposes. In fact, most of thesecontainers are still perfectly usable. A wholly different set of statistics indicates that migration and high birth rates in Addis Ababa contribute to an urban growth rate of 4% per year. Already today, the city is short 300,000 housing units in order to provide a roof and shelter for every citizen. According to UN estimates, by the year 2050, Addis Ababa’s population will grow from 4 million to 12 million. Even massive housing programs like the ongoing Condominium Housing Project may not be able to keep up with this kind of demand. Only new approaches to housing and construction may offer a sustainable solution for the future. Recycling used shipping containers is one such option. During the past few years, the EiABC has been conducting research on how to recycle and re-use containers as a sustainable building material. In constructing two prototypes on the EiABC campus, the institute learned important lessons on how to stack, refurbish and furnish containers. In partnership with a private client, this experience is now utilized to construct a G+4 multi-functional building within a residential container village in Addis Ababa, named MULU Promise Plaza and MULU Container Village. The projects vision is to promote cost-effective construction methods in Ethiopia and to transform Addis Ababa’s Quera district into a popular destination for the transient and resident population. The name and acronym MULU stands for Modular Urban Lifestyle Units and is also the Amharic word for the state of being full, integral, replete, well rounded or comprehensive.
Both MULU projects are located on a 17000sqm site in the Quera slaughterhouse district. Together with the existing warehouses and commercial buildings, the additions form a Technology Park for inner city production, entertainment, recreation and housing. The village is composed of 28 modular container units, combining housing with small offices. At its entrance, the Plaza offers public restaurants, cafes, shops, galleries and terraces on 4 levels. It stop-floor residential unit, which includes a rooftop container swimming pool as a counter-weight, completes the program. This G+4 container “stack” formulates the highest and most public point of the urban plan. The two complementary projects in combination with the existing clean industry are designed as a possible response to the needs of a growing urban population. Shipping containers offer a wide range of advantages. Designed for stacking under full load to up to 9 levels, this recycled material is a ready-made building block. Made to protect their cargo from seawater, air and collision, containers are earthquake proof, waterproof, and extremely durable. Even with rising steel prizes, decommissioned containers are still comparably cheap to acquire, especially because containers not only deliver structure but also skin and space. Using their modularity conceptually, building with containers can also greatly reduce construction time. Additionally, there are a couple of reasons why container housing units can work especially well in Ethiopia. Looking at the capital’s informal sector, the Kebele House presents the city’s traditional housing typology: This basic unit, constructed from mud and wood, has an average floor space of 16sqm and houses 5 to 6 family members. Several units form a compound that is connected by an open courtyard. The housing system is,in effect, modular. According to the needs of several families within a compound, units are rented out, shared or exchanged. If economically or spatially feasible, additional units are constructed (illegally in most cases) either vertically or horizontally. This leads to very dense clusters where public space captures and intrudes upon private spaces, and vice versa. Within each unit, all housing functionsare serviced by the same 16sqm of floor space. Usually the room changes during the day by rearranging the furniture, transforming a bedroom into a living room or kitchen. Learning from Addis Ababa, MULU Village uses a modular system where a basic unit, comprising 56sqm can be extended vertically to increase its usable space upto 86sqm. Using external but sheltered stairs between containers, circulation gains a semi-private atmosphere while maximizing the usable space within the units. Attached terraces, balconies, green roofs and plazas also offer a variety of public to private open spaces directly connected to the interior. The custom made furniture allows these units to change their functions during the day. In the long term, the village itself will vary over time. According to the dynamic needs and possibilities of each unit’s inhabitants, containers can then be removed or added.
MULU Promise Plaza is the multi-story, multi-functional building within the village. Marking the entrance to the development, it attracts the public to the site, while also maintaining the privacy of the residential areas. By offering shops, a restaurant, gallery and office space, the Plaza, as a lively city landmark, serves the village as well as the surrounding area with the necessary public functions. The plaza’s public terraces on 3 sides of the container “stack” invite visitors to enjoy a meal or macchiato, while taking in the views of the surrounding area. Using an approach similar to the residential village, these stacked containers are also considered as modular units that might shift ownership according to the different client’s needs. The circulation leads the visitor on a path along the containers from terrace to terrace, either along the outside, or through the middle of the stack; thus, making climbing the stack a unique and aesthetically stimulating experience. Additionally, the MULU Container Project strives to be a self-sufficient component of the urban fabric. Solar panels generate warm water and electricity; a well supports the buildings with a supply of fresh, filtered water. Rain and gray water is captured for gardening and landscaping purposes and to fill the rooftop swimming pool. These factors, along with (1) the recycled containers as the main building material, (2) the modularity of the units, (3) their possibility to adapt to an unforeseen future and (4) the considerably low building costs, combine to introduce the capital to a highly sustainable project with a minimal environmental impact. From the beginning, the close cooperation of the client and the architects along with local and international artists resulted in the development of a scheme to use the containers as an artistic urban canvas. The gaps and terraces of MULU Promise Place will be inhabited by sculptures, the necessary sunscreens along the containers change into murals.
The gallery on the 3rd floor provides even more space for the arts, while a temporary exhibition hall along the main Quera road ushers residents, tenants and visitors onto the site. Moreover, with regards to the residential village behind the G+4 plaza, an individual color code gives identity and aesthetic appeal to each container unit. Construction on MULU Promise Plaza and MULU Container Village will commence in November 2011. It will be a research project on alternative construction technologies, recycling methods and housing typologies. In Addis Ababa, a city with a considerably housing shortage, this cost effective, fast, and modular housing method might inaugurate one possible architectural approach for the future.
1Containerisation International, Market Analysis: World Container Census 2010, Informa Maritime & Transport, London: 2010
2International Standards Organization: developer and publisher of standards for (among other things) international freight regulations
3J.D.Smith: Shipping Containers asBuilding Components, University of Brighton, Brighton: 2006
4UN-HABITAT (2008) Ethiopia Urban Profile. UN-Habitat: Nairobi: 2008
5UN World Population Prospects: The 2009 Revision, http://esa.un.org/wup2009/unup/
MULU PROMISE PLAZA TEAM
Aberash Negussie Real Estate Services
Architecture and Landscape Design:
Chair of Architecture and Design I
Chair of Basic Architectural Design
Chair of Appropriate Building Technology
Chair of Infrastructure Design and Construction
|Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 09:39|