Thinking inside the box 10: Designworkshop:SA

VISI’s deputy editor Annemarie Meintjes invited 10 architects to explore the concept of container architecture in a South African context. We’re publishing the results in our Thinking Inside the Box feature.

Designworkshop:SA shows that the possibilities presented by the container are almost endless and can completely transform the dynamic of city living.

Container concept

Designworkshop:SA wanted to showcase the versatility of the container as a building material. It believes containers are as viable as traditional building materials and, what’s more, they do not have to be constructed from scratch, are easily transportable, affordable and modular, meaning they can be stacked on top of each other or adjoined in whichever way you please. The result: a container can be used for almost any imaginable structure.

Designworkshop:SA demonstrated the following ideas: the space inside an apartment block can be maximised by placing the staircase outside the building in adjoined containers; extra rooms can be added to apartments without taking up floor space, for example in the case of an extra lounge area; a swimming pool attached to the side of a building means the roof space can be used for another purpose; placing containers in public spaces, such as parks, and converting them into functional spaces, such as a games room or cinema, is an easy way to facilitate community interaction; and dormitory-style rooms can be created by stacking containers on top of each other on the roof of an apartment block. Other container alternatives include a greenhouse, a caravan, a garden delivery container and a recliner.

Company profile

Durban-based Designworkshop:SA functions under the leadership of Andrew Makin, Janina Masojada and Mark Horner, who aim to continuously build and maintain a team of the best possible people, and to add to their individual and shared knowledge and skills. Their design process does not begin with reference to form and shape, but rather with reference to activity – from the scale of the individual to that of the collective (a family, community or consumer group).

“We understand the dynamic of the collective and the universal. We then develop a strategy that will enable an appropriate design response to both necessity and luxury,” explains Andrew Makin.

031 303 5191,

See more VISI articles about container architecture here.