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Amin shipping container library Batu Indonesia

Book A Shipping Container as Your Library!

If you happened to be looking for the perfect weather-proof, air-conditioned space in which to store books, a shipping container probably wouldn’t spring to mind as an obvious solution. However, these flexible boxes, most of which are built in China from impregnable Corten steel, have been identified by several enlightened people as the perfect solution to providing temporary and permanent public libraries.

Shipping Containers Provide Temporary Home for London Library

Over in England, the south London borough of Southwark was desperately seeking a short-term home for its Newington Library, after a major fire destroyed adjacent council offices, meaning to remain on that site was untenable. Eager to keep the popular service running at all costs, council officers came up with a radical option – move all the books and staff into shipping containers!

The library is part of a vibrant community facility, called ‘The Artworks Elephant’ (this diverse and cosmopolitan quarter of old London is known as Elephant & Castle). In common with similar forward-thinking projects in the city, the library is comprised entirely of repurposed Conex boxes. It’s situated on the second floor of the complex, features all the usual services you’d expect of a library facility and is fully connected to the internet.

Alongside the smart, new library, Artworks Elephant is comprised of 40 re-imagined, steel shipping containers and forms the creative hub of the neighbourhood. There is a whole range of cafes and cool bars to kick-back in, and they’re open from 8am until midnight most days of the week. Add to this a number of creative design studios and you have a buzzing urban space.

Indonesian Library Architect-Designed from Conex Boxes

Meanwhile, 7,000 miles east of London, in the small Indonesian town of Batu, you will find yet another library constructed from decommissioned shipping containers that once plied their trade ferrying the world’s goods across the oceans. Whilst time at sea is usually limited to around 20 to 25 years maximum, due to shipping industry codes of practice, many weathering steel Conex boxes maintain their structural integrity and can still have a long and useful life back on terra firma.

Amin shipping container library Batu IndonesiaThe Amin Library is of eye-catching, unique design and the brainchild of innovative Jakarta firm, Dpavilion Architects, who specialise in repurposing and conversions. Comprising of seven shipping containers in all, each self-contained area is designated by bold, primary colours. The blue room, for example, focuses on entertainment and popular books, whilst the blue room is the place to brush up on science, making it ideal for revising students. As Indonesia is a largely Muslim country, the yellow space is set aside as a women-only reading room. Use of the library’s 6,000 books is entirely free and there’s even a small clinic to provide locals with basic health care facilities.

Shipping Container Architecture Here to Stay

Since the 2008 economic crash, local authorities and private individuals have been forced to look beyond conventional options when it comes to building offices, homes and other spaces. The easy worldwide availability of used shipping containers and an increasing number of architects and engineers rising to the challenge of repurposing them, means the trend is likely to remain into the foreseeable future.