GM Aids Green Housing

Gary S. Vasilash

Last week, GM announced that it was collaborating with the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) to build, at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, a house built from a shipping container.

The house, when finished, will have 320 sq-ft of living space, including two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. The shipping container home was styled by TAKD Design and the plans by Integrity Building Group.

GM Plant To Help Build First Shipping Container Homestead

It will be constructed of 85% scrap materials donated by GM, including plywood from large shipping containers (for interior wall cladding and furniture components), sound-deadening material (wall insulation), and lockers (planter boxes and tool storage).

The house will be built by skilled labor from Detroit-Hamtramck’s UAW Local 22 and other GM employee volunteers. It will be moved to the MUFI urban garden in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood, and will help build the home on the grounds of Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. Experienced volunteers will help cut and install windows and doors, run electrical, install walls, flooring and more. Once complete, the plant will move the house to MUFI’s urban garden located in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

This is no mere showpiece: a university student will live in the house year round and manage the urban garden.

Actually, shipping containers have been used for a number of years because, as the website pointed out in 2008, “There are plenty of benefits of to the so-called shipping container architecture model. A few of these advantages include: they are plentiful, they are easily transported, they’re stackable, relatively inexpensive (as little as $900 for a used container), they can be prefabricated, and they’re extremely durable.”

And the website goes on to point out that the first two-story shipping container home was designed in 2006 by architect Peter DeMaria. On the DeMaria Associates website there is actually a section on the projects page of cargo container buildings that the firm has designed.

Shipping container architecture may not be new, but it is certainly laudable. As Doneen McDowell, Detroit-Hamtramck plant manager pointed out: “This innovative project allows our facility to give back even more and be an integrated community partner while reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded.”

Points to GM for embracing this idea as well as its local community.