lecturer Evelyn Tickle.
recycling: Students convert crate into studio
By Rebecca Arrington
discarded shipping container, one of many tractor-trailer-sized
units now logging U.S. harbors, became material for Architecture
School lecturer Evelyn Tickles design-build
course this semester. Her fourth-year students assignment:
transform the container into a living space.
early May, their mission was accomplished. Tickles 12 architecture
students had converted the 40 foot-by-8 foot-by-91û2 foot steel
and wood box into a mobile studio, meeting her challenge
to take ordinary objects and reinvent them in new and creative
in her seventh year of teaching at the University, Tickle is the
first Architecture instructor here to teach a design-build class.
courses teach students that theres a big difference between
drawing drill holes on paper and physically drilling them into
a surface, she said. They also show students that
there is an [alternative] path to the typical corporate one taken
beyond Architecture School, she said.
Marsh, left, and Adam Donovan use the studios cable-supported
work surface to finalize their plans.
this years completed project as an ephemeral living
space, Tickle said the mobile atelier would be a great space
for anyone. The containers sections are separated by custom
room dividers made of flattened, riveted orange traffic cones,
donated by Virginia Department of Transportation. Skylights in
the ceiling let in natural light and hand-sized vents above the
hanging counter tops provide fresh air as well as more light.
section of the mobile studio is a communal area by day and bedroom
by night. The cots can be raised and lowered to convert the space
as needed, Tickle said. In the back of the studio is a water storage
unit, a shower and a composting toilet, which used the bulk of
the projects $500 budget. The studio also features a wood-burning
fireplace, custom-built by students.
paired her students into six, two-member teams responsible for
designing specific elements of the studio, all of whom did extensive
research on their given tasks, she said. The cable-suspended fireplace,
for example, is based on a design developed in the 18th century
by Count Rumford, explained Jeffrey Marcus and Rebecca Edson,
the students assigned to this aspect of the project. The fireplace
will be a water heater, as well as a heat source, they noted.
by Rebecca Arrington
Marcus and Rebecca Edson designed the studios heat source,
fashioned after an 18th- century Count Rumford fireplace.
the most unique feature of the studio will be its insulation.
Students use recycled blue jeans, instead of the more conventional
but more costly pink fiberglass. Once theyve collected enough
pairs of jeans, theyll layer them in a mesh frame to provide
insulation, Tickle explained.
students have been so professional. Theyve had to fund-raise
with businesses, locally and globally, Tickle said. Students
also scavenged junk yards for scrap wood, metal and plexiglass,
used in the design conversion.
that have been donated for the project include 25 gallons of epoxy
resin, concrete and welding services, as well as the container,
itself. Donated by Virginia International Terminals of Hampton
Roads, the container was delivered to U.Va. by tractor-trailer
and put on a temporary foundation next to the Architecture School
by crane at the start of the semester.
fall, several of Tickles design-build students took her
field work course, where they apprenticed with local companies
and trades- and crafts people throughout Charlottesville to learn
about welding, concrete, stucco, etc.
12 fourth-year Architecture students in U.Va. Lecturer Evelyn
Tickles class who converted a shipping container into
a mobile studio, were: Sharon Adarlo, Stephanie Giles, Mike
Marsh, Adam Donovan, Kara Hanson, Kris Conner, Rebecca Edson,
Jeff Marcus, Karen Koenig, Rives Rash, Antonio Dominguez and
Concrete and Quality Welding have been especially supportive,
are now in the works for the finished project to be shipped to
destinations nation- and perhaps worldwide. I hope the atelier
provides opportunities for students, as well as inspiration,
may use shipping containers in future design-build courses, but
the purpose of the redesigned container would be different, she
said. Tickle wont be teaching this course at U.Va. next
year, however. She and her husband, local architect and U.Va.
alumnus Alexander Kitchin, recently won a 105th annual Rome Prize
Competition and will spend next year at the American Academy in
nearly transformed shipping container-turned-mobile studio.
up the coasts
containers, such as the one at right, are being left in U.S. harbors
because it is cheaper for steamship lines to leave empty containers
at American ports that charge nominal fees than to pay the freight
to ship them back to their ports of origin, mostly in Asia, Tickle
to a growing trade imbalance, the U.S. imports 9 million units
a year and exports only 6 million. To combat the logjam, Virginia
International Terminals of Hampton Roads limited the amount of
empties that companies can keep on the waterfront, effective this
March. As a result, the number of empties has dropped to 6,500
from a high of 14,000 last year.
little-known fact about these containers is that the floors are
made of teak, an expensive and now endangered wood, noted Tickle,
who wishes the Far East companies would manufacture all-steel