We have to live somewhere, and Dave tells how this is being done for “newcomers” in Afghanistan.

“My job?  Transforming shipping containers into apartment buildings.”


And the newcomers?  Mostly Americans

[Through the DOOR you can learn how…]




–The shipping containers: 8′ X 8½’ X 20′, 30′, or 40′, the kind you see on railroad flatbed cars stacked 2 stories high, or behind semis on the interstates, carrying corn, bananas, cars, or tractors.  So they’re well-made, strong, and durable. Also quickly and cleverly constructed, and plentiful–so much so that the Chinese once (and still may) consider these “one-way” containers.

–The job:  To quickly, safely, and “economically” house (usually westerners with their high minimal living expectations) in small spaces in difficult regions. The shipping containers, or conex, often lined up with their sides touching, 20 or so in rows stacked 3 high, are the “foundation,” laid upon concrete slabs and welded together. Contractors then wave their magic wands, and poof–doors, hallways, communal bath and toilet areas, AC units, and small windows quickly appear. Add to that flat roofs and sand bags covered by peaked sloping metal roofs.

–Of course, this goes on within a like-minded temporary community in similar buildings behind a serious wall. We should be grateful to those engineers, often civilians, who risk building in Afghanistan and elsewhere as part of the U.S. defense effort.

Other uses of these shipping containers? possibly for vacation homes? Google conex (acronym for “container express,” and yes, it’s in the OED). Let your mind wander, and (forgive me) think out of the box.

[Thanks to Dave, who in his late 50’s, often wearing a helmet and Kevlar flak jacket, helped make this happen, illustrating everything for just me on a place mat at a memorable breakfast we shared recently.]





Author: John Knapp