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Through an interesting approach to recycling shipping containers, Turkey’s seaside city of Bodrum takes the concept of eco-friendly homes to a new level.

July 2015

Known as a year-round tourism destination, Bodrum is seeing increasing numbers of eco-friendly and sustainable housing projects developed across the Aegean region. Yet, one in particular is drawing a lot of interest. The project is transforming industrial shipping containers into modern, high-quality, eco-friendly, residential units.

Dubbed as ‘cargotecture’ by Seattle architect Joel Egan, shipping containers are being recycled as homes, offices and even travelling museum exhibits in some parts of the world, marking a trend that began just a few years ago. Still relatively unknown in several countries, these net zero-energy houses have very high energy performance and the low amount of energy that these buildings require comes mostly from renewable sources.

Now, Turkey is the latest country to join the trend.


As a result of a boom in population and urbanisation, Turkey has several ambitious plans, including finding environmentally friendly solutions for its building sector to minimise the impact on the environment.

“This is an achievable target due to Turkey’s richness in natural resources which enables the country to draw on its renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal. Turkey’s aim is to ensure that at least one fourth of its building stock is sustainable by 2023,” says architect and Partner at A++, Paolo Colombo.

In order for the country to achieve several of its sustainability goals, architects A++ were called in to look at transforming shipping containers into homes in the country’s holiday city. The project is the first of its kind in Turkey and if successful in Bodrum, it may be rolled out across the country.

“The new development will house a number of highly efficient, low cost, net zero houses. Our aims were to utilise the steel structures of a container, so that once complete the original form will be perfectly disguised within the new architecture,” says Colombo.

One of the project’s aims is to ensure that the units draw on conventional structures, whilst also boasting the highest level of energy performance. The design comprises of one or two storey homes with large outdoor living areas allowing for an obstructed view of the sea.

“The walls will be insulated with a specially crafted stratigraphy designed around the climate of the region so it can provide the highest level of comfort in a high performance building. The homes will range from 120 to 200 sqm, and will consist of three to four bedrooms in a carefully planned layout, that takes into consideration the house’s orientation and the environment in which it has been inserted,” says Colombo.

In terms of the ventilation system of the units, Colombo says that special care has been taken in the technological systems which will heat, cool and provide water for the houses. “A tailor-made engineering unit has been designed by a well know international producer to perform all tasks effortlessly along with providing mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and will also include an electronic filter to purify the inner air from dust and bacteria as small as 1 micron.”

In addition, an array of thin film photovoltaic panels will be fitted on the roof of each home ensuring that an energy balance of zero is achieved on an annual basis. The use of electronically controlled systems will also ensure that energy is controlled and optimised, without wastage.

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