Week 1 - Finding Inspiration / by Caroline Ingalls

   Urban Coffee Farm  by  Hassell  for the 2013  Melbourne Food & Wine Festival .  A project to show the community about the journey of coffee with an innovative reuse of shipping containers and pallets.  

Urban Coffee Farm by Hassell for the 2013 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.  A project to show the community about the journey of coffee with an innovative reuse of shipping containers and pallets.  

I feel very fortunate that I have developed a phenomenal passion for my two areas of study in design, that being interior design and especially sustainability.  Beautiful sustainable projects are popping up everywhere in the built environment, though unfortunately seeming like a hot 'green' trend to the public.   

The first thing I would like to stress before anything is that sustainability is not a trend by any means - it is a necessity.  As quoted by Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer at Ikea, "sustainability has gone from a nice-to-do to a must-do."  Designers are quickly recognizing the importance of shifting towards a sustainable way of thinking and therefore creating, as we are consuming resources at a much faster rate than we are producing them at. 

In my recent travels, I have been fortunate enough to come across some pretty exciting and successful projects that exemplify sustainability in the built environment.  I traveled to Australia this past June, and was thoroughly impressed with the efforts happening down there in terms of showing the public how effective and downright cool sustainability is.  

I do not want to refer to this as a trend, but the repurposing of shipping containers for habitable structures has become quite popular.  I have come across a few of these sites from Brisbane, Australia to San Francisco, California, and I have developed a deep interest and curiosity not just about the possibilities of building with containers, but with the complete life cycle of a container.  These steel boxes travel the world more than most people do in a lifetime to be honest, weathered from the salt spray of the ocean and carrying the most everyday goods from automobiles to food to rubber ducks.  Each container has a different story, and that is what I find most fascinating.  

I would like find a way to tell the community about the fascinating journeys of these containers as they carry 90% of the world's goods.  Some end their lives after unfortunately toppling overboard, sinking to the depths of the deepest oceans, and others get placed in a container yard with no future purpose, rusting away because it is too expensive to send them home.  The constant loss to the ocean and reproduction of containers is very harmful to our environment, as well as our world's dependence on global shipping.  

I will strive to combine my interior design and sustainability skills to create a temporary public space in Savannah, Georgia, conveniently the third busiest port in the United States behind Los Angeles/Long Beach and New York City.  This space will hopefully introduce Savannah to the idea of adaptively reusing containers, making use of the thousands we have left to rust away, and giving them a new purpose to serve.  It will educate the community on the life cycle of cargo through experience as well as the incorporation of retail to encourage the importance and impact of supporting local economies.  Sustainable building techniques will also be incorporated to show the public just how easy, cost-effective and not to forget fun it is, including regenerative methods such as generating renewable energy, reusing grey water and supporting the local habitat with greenery.