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St Bede's School Built form Shipping Containers

Back to School – In a Shipping Container!

Shipping containers are built from marine-grade Corten steel and designed to withstand at least 20 years of transporting goods across the world’s oceans. But what do you do with these huge, steel boxes when they come to the end of their working lives? Designers have worked with engineers to come up with hundreds of commercial ideas but none more worthwhile than shipping container schoolrooms.

Shipping Containers Provide New Californian Classrooms

Over in Orange County, the privately-run Waldorf School has extended its building capacity by a substantial 10,000 square metres, through smart use of 32 recycled Conex boxes. The new extension features science laboratories, staff offices, a student lounge, a library and even a spacious, two-storey auditorium for holding theatrical productions and concerts.

Waldorf School built from shipping containersThe school’s management team figured out early on that doing most of the building work on site would create unacceptable disruption around the existing school buildings and have an impact on education, hence it was decided early on to do most of the steel fabrication and conversion work at another location. Once this was completed, it took approximately three months to do the actual onsite installation, including drywall, insulation and decoration. The innovative, $2 million development is thought to be the largest ‘green’ project in the region and was warmly welcomed by both students and teachers.

British Grade School Opens Upcycled Container Extension

Manchester, England may be best known for its rock bands and soccer teams but it also made the news when its St Bede’s Primary Academy, a public school, built an extension similar in concept to that of California’s Waldorf School, by stacking insulated shipping containers and disguising their origin using timber cladding.

St Bede's School Built form Shipping ContainersIn common with many schools in the UK, St Bede’s had outlived its 140-year-old buildings and was desperate for more functional, ergonomically-designed space to bring it into the 21st century. A senior teacher remarked, “It is the ultimate recycling project, converting containers into new, modern bright and airy classrooms”. With the UK’s education budget drastically slashed over several years, converted shipping containers are a cost-effective way to upgrade facilities, compared to more traditional construction techniques. Estimates suggest the entire project came in at a third cheaper. The modular approach offered architects plenty of flexibility and creative licence, and they have created three new classrooms and a stand-alone block. They are projected to last at least 30 years.

DigiTruck Brings IT Learning Facility to Tanzania

Meanwhile, far from the grey skies of northern England, a charity called ‘Close the Gap’ brought an IT classroom, made from a recycled, steel shipping container to an East African orphanage.

Digitruck IT classroom in TanzaniaLess than half of Africa’s population has access to mains electricity, so the DigiTruck’s laptop computers and tablets were designed to run on solar power. Up to 18 children can use the facility at any one time, giving them vital access to new technology and a chance to learn new skills, compete in our digital age and eventually climb out of the oppressive poverty that blights much of sub-Saharan Africa. The portability of the classroom means it can be easily moved to new locations. It’s also resilient and secure. When the truck eventually moves on, the charity donates the computers to the village.