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Shipping Containers Are Becoming 'Home, Sweet Home' All Over the World

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An old steel box might not sound like the coziest place to live, but for many people around the world, a humble shipping container means "home, sweet, home."

From Berlin to Bangalore to London, people all over are shacking up in shipping containers. And now, Copenhagen-based container architecture firm CPH Shelter and architect Søren Nielsen, a partner at Danish firm Vandkunsten Architects, have designed the "CPH Village," a planned shipping container structure aimed to help solve the area's student housing shortage.

The CPH Village project is an offshoot of the company's standalone CPH Shelter, an easily transportable "plug and play" unit that can be customized easily and inexpensively. For instance, a single house can be merged, divided or reshaped over time to family or senior housing.

The CPH designers can certainly turn an old box into something livable, as Arch Daily wrote:

The unit’s central room is created by cutting a 40-foot container in two halves and pulling them two meters apart, creating a large living area flanked by two niches for the bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom alcove faces the living room and features a daybed that can be used as seating and sleeping, thereby saving the space traditionally dissolved by the redundant functions of a sofa and a bed.

The homes itself are built from up-cycled materials and comes furnished with a kitchen, bath and integrated and multi-functional cabinet and storage space. It is also insulated and left unpainted inside to avoid fumes or chemical exposure from paint.

These shelters can be easily merged, divided and reshaped over time. Photo credit: CPH Shelter

Because there is no need to dig a foundation and can be disassembled and reassembled, the homes are ideal for temporary, or even permanent, university housing.

CPH Shelter has a 80 percent lower CO2 footprint in the production phase than traditional buildings, the company boasts on their website.

The CPH Village project will be launched later this year. "Our effort to create cheap, flexible and sustainable colleges have taken a big leap forward," the company wrote on a Facebook post in November 2015. "Yesterday the city council of Copenhagen unanimously agreed to ask the Danish government to adjust the Planning Act and make it possible to construct temporary student residences in urban perspective areas—eg. Refshaleøen or Nordhavn in Copenhagen.

"The government will present their proposals for a new Planning Act early 2016. If the right framework is put in place, we are ready to construct hundreds of sustainable and affordable student housing in the coming years."

The house is not painted inside to avoid fumes from the paint. Photo credit: CPH Shelter

Copenhagen won't be home to the first shipping container student village in the world. In Amsterdam, The Wenckehof—which consists of 1,000 shipping containers converted into housing for students—is the largest development of its kind, The Guardian reported in October 2015.

Although shipping container homes have its critics, advocates tout its versatility and affordability. One Wenckehof resident told The Guardian that he pays is €450 a month ($505) in rent to live at Wenckehof and also qualifies for a €140 ($170) monthly housing subsidy, much cheaper than the €600 ($675) a month that students often pay to share an apartment in central Amsterdam.

For tiny home aficionados, a repurposed shipping container means living simply and affordably. EcoWatch recently featured six beautiful tiny homes made out of shipping containers.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

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The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."