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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recycled Shipping Containers As Disaster Response: School Built In Four Weeks After Earthquake

by Paula Alvarado

Recycled Shipping Containers School In Chile Photo


Shipping containers continue to prove their value to build almost anything, from amazing office buildings to houses to even boy scout cabins.

And although their use as a disaster response has been questioned, they've proven to be a useful resource when a tsunami hit Chile last year and a group of students from a local university was able to re-build a local school in a devastated town in only four weeks.

A fishing town of 3,000 people, Tubul is located about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south-west from Santiago, and was one of the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Recycled Shipping Containers School In Chile Model Photo

In an effort called Viento Fuerte (Strong Wind), the architecture department of the Finis Terrae University gathered 56 advanced students to design, mount and equip a school for the town.

The project was built from 22 shipping containers donated by a company, which were properly isolated and used as prefab modules. There are 20 containers on ground level and two on a second level, which were jointed by one of their large sides to conform the different classrooms and spaces.

In between, there are open areas that serve as patios, which are shaded and covered to protect children from the rain. Part of the old school building that survived the earthquake was connected to the new structure.

Recycled Shipping Containers School In Chile Photo

Despite containers having been accused of 'top down' solutions in crisis response, the promoters of the project claim this school was designed not to be a temporary solution but a definitive, full functioning building.

As mentioned, an amazing part of the project is that it was designed and built in only four weeks after the earthquake. The university published a video in English sharing the experience:

The rescue of the Chilean miners and the Japan earthquake have long pushed the Chilean tsunami out of the news, but TreeHugger experienced first-hand that its consequences remain. The initiative Viento Fuerte keeps working on the reconstruction of Tubul and are currently gathering donations for their new projects.