Shipping Containers Used for Employee Housing In Dubai Desert

by , 07/22/10

dubai, shipping containers, shipping container housing, worker housing, green architecture

In the world of green architecture and affordable housing, shipping container homes are often considered to be practical, cost-effective and even environmentally-friendly. In Dubai, however, the prospect seems a bit dubious. Gulf News reported today on a contracting firm in Dubai that has built housing for workers out of shipping containers, which can become unbearably hot in desert environments if they aren’t properly insulated. On the other hand, the containers probably didn’t cost that much, can be easily relocated to the next job, they can withstand sand storms, and the contracting firm says that the containers have sufficient insulation against the scorching desert sun.

dubai, shipping containers, shipping container housing, worker housing, green architecture

Dubai-based construction firm Alsahel Contracting Company LLC (ACC) noticed its employees had to drive long distances to and from the job site each day and were coming to work tired. To combat this, they built employee housing from 40′ shipping containers that house 8 people each, with two separate rooms on either side outfitted with bunk beds. The containers are also equipped with an air conditioner per side, exhaust fans, and “decoration wood”, which is meant to help insulate the container. In the hot desert, the metal containers are likely to soak up a lot of heat, although they are better suited to withstand sand storms than wood cabins, which are more likely to degrade.

The Gulf News article seems to insinuate that the workers are being mistreated by being housed in shipping containers, although it is never blatantly said. Granted, these containers are certainly not luxury condos — but they do seem to provide adequate housing for a temporary workforce. The construction firm says that the containers are safe and have governmental approval and they have tried to make them look respectable. What do you think — does the Gulf News article raise a red flag or is this a cool use of shipping containers?

Via Gulf News

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  1. abid shahzad November 16, 2011 at 12:37 am

    We need some used containers so please contact us q

  2. ArmyVet8 March 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm


  3. sandlander July 24, 2010 at 9:56 am

    As JeanX implies, this is a difficult topic. And if Gulf News, which was my daily read during six years in the UAE, insinuates that this represents \\\’mistreatment\\\’ then their report must be taken in the context of the truly abysmal situation which prevailed prior to recent improvements.

    Nothing in the Sandlands is as straightforward as it seems. And it is indeed an irony that some of the essentially praiseworthy real-estate developments… sustainable and impeccably \\\’green\\\’… are being built by a labour force which toils in conditions which are for most of us unimaginable.

  4. jeanX July 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    The migrant workers of Dubai have their passports taken, work in extreme heat for low-pay.Women and girls are used as domestic servants are kept in isolation and are fed very little.Some of them are sexually abused.All this to provide a Neverland of obscene taste…

  5. ECObitat: Lush Modular ... July 23, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    […] system has dimensions of 2.44 m x 3.10 m x 12.20 — roughly the size of a standard 40′ shipping container. The bedroom sits at one end, the bathroom is in the middle, and the kitchen and living areas are […]

  6. Nick0 July 23, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Workspaces in many remote areas are made from portable units that might as well be shipping containers. There are companies that build these modular units that can be stacked, and have stair wells going between units.

    Just sayin….

  7. cloneboy July 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Having lived in a shipping container in Iraq for two years, I can tell you that it is not exactly an amazing experience. Not bad, but not great, either.

    As long as the air conditioning works, they are pretty comfortable.

  8. afiskvittori July 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    This is almost a brilliant idea. Providing shade is probably the best passive strategy in the desert climate. Integrating something like a military type shade structure over the shipping container dwelling units could significantly improve the micro-climate and reduce energy demand on the window AC units.

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