The container living movement

Words: Amy on May 27, 2020

Jasper reflects on how he’s got HBH to where it is now and the potential of container living..

One thing lock down has given many of us is extra time at home and I know that a lot of us have used that time to do things like have a tidy up, clear some things out, and have a think about life. Sometimes we are so busy getting on with life, we don’t always find the time to reflect, look back, or to look forwards and make plans.  If you know me, you already know that I don’t like to stand still for long.  You will also know that I like to see what else is going on, what have others done that I could get inspiration from and see what I could use or adapt to make the vision of the charity a reality.

Right from the start, I have always looked forward.  I am lucky to have lots of contacts, lots of friends, and if I see something that needs doing I can find a way to get it sorted. I’ve recently re-posted the film that the One Show made, back in 2018, and I said then that maybe I didn’t know how to convert a shipping container but I knew what I wanted it to be and I got people on board to help me do it. And that is what makes it happen, that is why we always say ‘together we can make a difference’.

Once we got going, I made it my business to go and see other container based projects.  We all learn in different ways – written instructions or visual descriptions or hands on practice for example.  I like to go and actually see something and get my ideas from that.  Converting shipping containers is not a new thing, it has been happening all over the world for a quite a while.  I remember a TV crew from Canada coming to film us as part of their documentary on how different people in different countries were using them for all sorts of purposes.  Everything from simple units of living accommodation to multi storey combined units for offices, homes, workspaces, all sorts.  When you see what can be done, and how quickly it can be put together, it makes me want to share this with others too.  I get inspired by things like this, and by sharing what we do at HBH and what others do too, I hope to pass that inspiration on.

When I started back in 2017, there were not many examples of converted shipping containers being used in Bristol.  Now, you only have to go into the centre and you will pass by places like Boxworks at Temple Meads (we used one of theirs as our office for a while), or down at the harbour, Cargo have used them for eateries, shops and more at Wapping Wharf, and I showed you the project at Barton Hill. I have been to conferences on container living and as you know, I post up the videos on here of what is going on in places like London.  Whenever I get invited to speak about what we do at HBH, I always say how converted containers are so versatile, cost effective and quick to put together and where space is an issue, like it is in Bristol as most cities, being able to stack them up as we have done at Spring Street is a bonus too.

It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it is about showing what can be done, not just an idea on paper or an artist’s impression, but the real thing that is inspiring for others.  Bristol is a great city that has led the way on many things, and now our city has the potential to show the way on this too. I promote container living as a solution to homelessness, I show people what micro flats look like, what a project like ours can and does achieve for people who need a hand up.  If doing that inspires others to do the same for their cause or their project, that is great and I am happy to be a part of the container living movement here in Bristol.

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