Bjarke Ingels: 3 warp-speed architecture tales

This architect initially caught my attention simply because he sounded a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger. As his presentation unfolded, I remained engaged due to his environmentally conscious ideas, innovative designs, and seemingly “accidental” – but amazing project commissions.

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ISBU Design Project

It has been exactly one month since my graduation from ACC. I’ve been in job search mode for the past 3 weeks and patiently waiting for delivery of my official A.A.S. Diploma which, by the way, will represent the beginning of my engineering career -or- my architectural “pre-education”. After the first few semesters, I came to realize that even after I obtained my associates degree, I would not even be close to having the priviledge of calling myself an architect. In fact, after hearing how much more schooling I would need to undergo, I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to take it that far. After all, it seems to me like the education-to-salary ratio for architects is a bit uneven in comparison to other engineering careers. Being an architect no longer has the superstar appeal that it did when I was a kid. Still, I feel like I’m being lead down this path for some unknown reason. With one degree down and at least one more to go, I need to keep up the momentum. For now, I’ll need to keep the bills paid and the little mouths fed using the skills from my previous careers(i.e. sales, IT or customer service)

In order to stay sharp in all the rendering programs that I have learned to use over the last 18 months, like AutoCAD, 3DS Max and Revit, I have decided to initiate a few of my personal design projects. One of the ideas that had been floating around in my head was a design for a personal creative space/art studio that is constructed from one or more ISBU’s(Intermodal Steel Shipping Unit) – better known as shipping containers.

Basic 20ft  and 40ft ISBUs drafted using AutoCAD 2013.

Basic 20ft and 40ft ISBUs I drafted using AutoCAD 2013.

Shipping container test rendered using 3DS Max with low light and no background.

My ISBU test rendering using 3DS Max with low light and no background.

Styrofoam blocks a made for quick and configuration mock-ups and sketches.

Some styrofoam blocks that I made for quick configuration mock-ups and sketches.

There are already a few ISBU projects that have been successfully completed here in Austin. Probably the most recognized was the La Boite coffee shop on south Lamar. I found out later that La Boite was designed by a UT School of Architecture graduate. After a few weeks of research, I found several other local projects in the works. Not to mention the countless other – and much more elaborate projects around the world. I have collected a few of my favorite examples.

Single-family design by MEKA World

Single-family design by MEKA World

Stunning house built with 7 ISBUs by Maison IDEKIT Home.

Stunning house built with 7 ISBUs by Maison IDEKIT Home.

2-container cliffhanger home bt Studio-H:T

2-container cliffhanger home by Studio-H:T

I plan on starting with this stand-alone, green studio project using 1 – 3 20ft. containers. In order to maximize the natural light, much of the steel paneling will be cut out to make room for large windows on every wall except the main hanging wall which will double as the painting/work wall. The studio will be wired for lighting, heating and air conditioning. Roof-mounted solar panels will provide auxiliary power. I want to integrate as many natural materials into the interior as possible. Bamboo is my favorite wood-like materials. It should do well for the flooring and the furniture.

As I learn more about the various building methods, from foundations to insulation and external veneers, I will attempt to design something larger. Something that is a little more architecturally unique. From what I have seen so far, there are no set rules regarding these ISBU-based designs – with the exception of regional building codes. Again, being less of an architect and more of a drafter, codes will remain one of my areas of weakness until I get further in my architectural education.