I saw one today. A container house in the middle of Potsdam, painted bright green, it’s front made completely of glass and through it a view of a cosy, bright seating area. It looked great! A little industrial charm goes a long way, I’d say. The founder of ‘Containerwerk,’ Ivan Mallinowski, agrees. His idea isn’t new, but it’s refined; Ivan Mallinowski wants to revolutionise the concept of living. The start up, ‘Containerwerk’, founded in 2017, aims to meet a whole series of contemporary challenges by converting old large capacity containers into inexpensive, fully operational living modules. These challenges include the housing shortage, lack of space, waste of resources and environmental pollution. The foundation of the company was the result of long development processes that were conducted in cooperation with the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and the Fraunhofer Institute.

CONTAINER LOVE –
SEXY LIVING IN STEEL

Category: Living     Text: Angela Peltner
I saw one today. A container house in the middle of Potsdam, painted bright green, it’s front made completely of glass and through it a view of a cosy, bright seating area. It looked great! A little industrial charm goes a long way, I’d say. The founder of ‘Containerwerk,’ Ivan Mallinowski, agrees. His idea isn’t new, but it’s refined; Ivan Mallinowski wants to revolutionise the concept of living. The start up, ‘Containerwerk’, founded in 2017, aims to meet a whole series of contemporary challenges by converting old large capacity containers into inexpensive, fully operational living modules. These challenges include the housing shortage, lack of space, waste of resources and environmental pollution. The foundation of the company was the result of long development processes that were conducted in cooperation with the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and the Fraunhofer Institute. This has resulted in a viable living alternative that also happens to be quite cosy. Cosy and container are two words that don’t quite seem like they could co-exist… However, it is exactly this contradiction that makes it so interesting. My image of a container is clunky and heavy, rusty brown or bright blue in colour, and it certainly does not fit into my idea of hip and comfortable living.

Just like Tetris: The containers can be stacked on top of each other or next to each other. Photo: Stefan Hohloch
PIMP MY CONTAINER
Containerwerk also offers a “sexy” version of their metal cubes. And the example pictures look awesome. They remind me a little of Tetris, as the cubes are movable. You can stack them, put them on top of each other and next to each other. They are modules that can be assembled, removed and moved around. You basically have endless possiblities when it comes to piecing togther your dream home and its arrangement. Whether with a glass front or a veranda, with wood panelling or without; whether you choose mint green, pink or sky blue as your pallet, it’s all possible. The point is you can customise it exactly to you taste and therefore achieve the maximum feel-good factor. You can also place the pimped out sea freight container nearly anywhere, as long as there is a water and electricity connection nearby. The containers do have one substantial flaw: They don’t have a very long lifespan. The average age of a freight container is just 13 years, after which it becomes a useless heap of metal. That’s why this metamorphosis from a functioning container that once transported fragile goods undamaged through every ocean storm into a container house that provides a unique living space is a major win.
Removed from its natural habitat of harbour and ship, it’s placed in city centres or the city’s outskirts, in any case, integrated into life in way that it wasn’t made for. Removed from it’s role as a pure means of transport, it is repurposed as a sustainable living space, as a retirement home, as a student residence or as a small family house.

Sunny nook: The combination of two sea freight containers creates a spacious living and outdoor area. Photo: Stefan Hohloch
IT’S ALL ABOUT INSULATION
The reason this symbiosis between container and home is only now really taking off is due to the two major problems a steel colossus brings with it. Because comfortable living requires peace from inside and outside and that also means a pleasant room climate.
It is exactly at this point that Containerwerk sets itself apart from all other competitors with its patented process. They have managed to implement heat and noise insulation skilfully and efficiently. And the solution was simple. In fact, sometimes the solution can and must be small, in this case: 10 centimetres of monolithic insulation, manufactured in an industrial process using only recyclable materials. Another important aspect is that the thermal construction does not require thermal bridges, which would normally lead to rust and mould residue, since condensation water accumulates in them, making it impossible to live in. Containerwerk’s clear competitive advantage lies in its slim, high-performance insulation. With this patented process, approximately 25 centimeters are gained on each side of the container. The average width of a competitor’s interior is just 1.80 m, while that of Containerwerk is an impressive 50 centimetres more. The 2.32 m width makes this piece of steel lucrative and livable. In height, the containers are about the same size, just over 2.40 m, so also suitable for tall people. Every advertisement for these container homes always praises the fact that they give you the feeling of sitting in a real house.

Steel giant: After being retired, the containers can be converted into uniquely designed living areas. Photo: Stefan Hohloch
THE FUTURE IS LIVING IN A CUBE
Ivan Mallinowski and his co-founders didn’t want to rush into anything too hastily. When they started selling containers in 2017, they thought that it would simply be a series product for student residences, hotel projects or staff housing. They planned to focus more on larger companies rather than on creating a family-residential model. But the project, which initially took up so much equity, has now taken on a life of its own. And it was only with this process that the founders recognised the great potential these steel giants had and dared to dream of a future in which steel and living in comfort would be a norm in every city and in every country. Another new milestone for the steel dinosaur was the recent shipping of a “container island” to Costa Rica, fit with its own water and electricity. And in the distance, Philipp Boa sings:

container love, the years have passed, the rainbow shows
he fell in love, not far from there, decation grows

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