Monday, March 4, 2013

A Recreational Project: Container Home Design

Last semester, I got a notepad for class that was blank sheets. This semester, I opted for an engineering/graph notepad after discovering that one existed in the first place. I love engineering paper, and using it to design cool stuff. I don't really take notes in class, I just try to pay attention as best I can. I find that when I'm concentrating on something other than what's going on, I actually retain more information. I have basically two mental settings: either concentrate entirely on what I'm doing without any distractions, or ignore whatever it is I'm supposed to be retaining and focus on one mindless distraction. For example, during the Long Break, I listened to General Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, and General Mike Hostage, Commander of Air Combat Command, while playing Mega Miner.

So, what have I been working on with my engineering paper while I've been sitting in class? Well, I'll tell you: a shipping container home. I was first introduced to the concept of using converted shipping containers to build homes while working for the Army in California. As you can see from this view on Wikimapia, and these ground level pictures from Wikipedia (1, 2), the military uses lots of shipping containers to build villages for realistic urban warfare (MOUT) training, or for use as modular, purpose-built structures for locations where the military deploys overseas, or for various other purposes. A couple of the companies that provide these modified containers are CMOUTS and Allied Container. Other companies, like Safe Castle LLC and Atlas Survival Shelters, convert shipping containers for use as various types of emergency shelters. At least one company, Strategic Operations, provides conversion kits to alter the appearance of containers to make them more realistic for military training. Outside of military circles, there's a big Wikipedia article on shipping container architecture, and it's become a sort of darling of the environmentalist crowd due to its low cost and reuse of existing materials.

I realize that things like "armory", "observation tower", and "emergency shelter" make me seem like a militant survivalist, and I'm really not. As I mentioned in a previous post on my security blog, I don't put much stock in survivalism. I tend to collect a lot of field gear for various activities, and I enjoy recreational shooting, so having an individual room to store that stuff makes sense to me. The observation tower can be used for astronomy, or just for getting a higher view of what's going on around the homestead. The emergency shelter may seem a bit extreme, but keep in mind that it can just be used as a basement most of the time, or even as guest accommodation. These are just a few pieces that fit together for one purpose or another when you take the entire house in context.

So, based on some previous designs and doodles, I've basically "finalized" my floor plan. It features a basement with an emergency shelter, water, and fuel storage tanks, two main levels, and a small observation tower. I still need to do some work laying out HVAC, plumbing, electrical wiring, and network cabling. For the record, I know nothing about any of these things, but it can't hurt to do some work laying it out. I've wanted to take some time and get this stuff down on paper for a while, so it's nice to have an opportunity to do so while simultaneously learning about topics like militant Islam, Russian security concerns, and the American/British special relationship from the Director.

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