Note — Aug 18, 2019

The Sinister Brutality of Shipping Container Architecture

On the container aesthetic, how it’s not really appropriate for anything but shipping and on the difference between its hipster usage and its less glamorous ones. As ever, someone’s utopia is someone else’s dystopia.

It’s a dystopia, though it can be a sublime one, and half a dozen beers into your evening it is great fun. But then you’re forced to imagine it as home: There’s a student housing complex here made of stacked containers, so unremittingly bleak in its aspect that it makes you wonder whether the architects had humans in mind. […]

But the harsh landscape of the shipping container is a terrible shorthand for modernity. It’s not just the now-inescapable connotations of the migrant crisis. It’s that the people who’ve most celebrated the container form are precisely not the ones who’ve ever had to live in one: they can always go home, to a proper building somewhere else.