Container Housing Scheme at Richardson’s Yard, Brighton

There’s a very real need for affordable housing in the UK right now. So the Cityzen team are proud to be part of an innovative project taking place to provide temporary housing for Brighton’s homeless, using disused shipping containers.

The scheme will provide 36 studio units for men and women with a local connection to the city.

The steel containers stack together, rather like giant Lego blocks, and will be assembled in three and five storey blocks, with balconies and external stairs to the upper levels. Each apartment features a kitchen and bathroom and, inside, looks not dissimilar to any other studio flat.

Shipping container homes have been used just a little in the UK – Container City and Forest YMCA in London are two examples – but have been more commonly used in Europe and the United States. There are many advantages to using containers: They’re low-cost, strong, quick to assemble, transportable, and make use of the 300 million shipping containers sitting empty at ports around the world. They can be used as affordable housing or as more luxurious and high-concept buildings, like this one in america by Hybrid (thanks Joel for the photo).

Homelessness has trebled in Brighton and Hove in the past three years so the scheme is intended to provide accommodation to meet our city’s housing need and to be a move on from supported housing. The development is temporary, with permission to be there for five years since the land is classed as contaminated and not suitable for permanent housing and awaits long-term regeneration (without the container development, it could potentially sit unused for five years). When the five years are up, the container homes can simply be moved to a new site.

Our very own John Smith at Cityzen actually wrote his thesis on “Using Shipping Containers as Building Components” back in 2006 so we have a particular interest in this area and are delighted to be working with Brighton Housing Trust and QED (the developers of the New England quarter) & WECC architects on this pioneering scheme . We’ll be providing energy assessments to ensure the containers meet Building Regulations, as well as taking care of all the necessary engineering requirements.

The scheme seems to have caught the media’s eye. Coverage includes this ITV report: and this Mail Online article showing a selection of photos inside the student housing in Keetwonen, Amsterdam (a development by TempoHousing) made from 1,000 shipping containers and built in 2006 (and still in use).

We’ve been told that the converted containers have now arrived in the UK and are waiting for the site at Richardson’s Yard to be ready. We’re expecting them to be in place and finished by Autumn and we can’t wait to see people using them as their new homes. 

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