We've seen shipping containers used for any number of green buildings -- homes, of course, but also hotels and even data centers. But we just came across a much more unexpected re-use for old shipping containers: Prison.
Rimutaka prison in New Zealand has turned shipping containers into prison cells and showers as part of a solution to prison overcrowding (pictured above). From a story about the cells last year:
[The New Zealand Department of Corrections] believes it will be able eventually to put the container cells on prison sites at a cost of $53,000 to $63,000 per bed -- or about half the cost of conventional cells....
The container cell unit at Rimutaka is fitted out with four insulated and heated cells measuring six square metres each, so the cells are slightly larger than the 5.7sq m single-bunk cells at one of Rimutaka's minimum security units.
But Mr Lyons said if the containers were to be double-bunked, they would be configured as three cells per unit which would keep them within the United Nations requirement of 8sq m per cell....
New Zealand's burgeoning prison population is forecast to require 5000 extra beds by 2018.
Shipping containers have come in vogue in recent years as a green building material; the containers are available cheaply and in abundance -- a Wikipedia entry says the can be purchased used for as little as $1,200, and even brand new rarely cost more than $6,000. Reusing the containers is considered a greener option than scrapping them after the end of their relatively short useful life in shipping.
Pictured below is a house made of reused shipping containers created by Ro/Lu Design in Minneapolis.