Ingenious Project : 100 Student Dorm Rooms Made From Shipping Containers

Ingenious Project : 100 Student Dorm Rooms Made From Shipping Containers

If you lived in a students’ dorm, you know the hassle that comes with the lack of privacy, crowdedness, noise, sometimes the lack of cooking space and so on. Here is a project that manages to overcome some of these draw backs. Cité A Docks is a creative student housing project, located in Le Havre, France from Cattani Architects. The amazing thing about it is that 100 new student dorm rooms were created by transforming old shipping containers into a four-story building. Each apartment has 24 square meters and includes a bathroom and a kitchen, which is just about everything a student could need. We have to say we were a bit skeptical at fist when seeing the exterior of this building, as it looks too “metallic” and industrial for our tastes while the overall gray certainly doesn’t go with the exuberance and energy of students. Here is what the architects had to say about this: “The metal structure allows a better identification of the different rooms, and enhances them through the external extensions that become terraces and balconies. The sequences of the transverse corridors giving access to the apartments on the façade creates a succession of full and empty spaces that gives the structure a more visual transparency.” What are your personal opinions on this project?


  • Whitney Peckman October 1, 2010 at 14:13 PMLogin to Reply →

    Love the whole techie, recycled. open look – very youthful – Make the window shades intense colors, maybe in vertically arranged hues – to add fun and identification.

  • Alex October 1, 2010 at 14:57 PMLogin to Reply →

    I work at a university where we considered installing these (well actually something similar, not exactly these). We eventually decided they were an eyesore and that the open staircases and balconies would be expensive to maintain in the winter and a potential liability if a student fell (either due to ice or alcohol).

  • estetikheretik October 1, 2010 at 18:09 PMLogin to Reply →

    I´ve been trying to sell something similar here in croatia for years, but there is lack of interest. glad to see somebody did it anywhere. well done!!! love it!!

  • 2Hit6 October 1, 2010 at 22:28 PMLogin to Reply →

    I wonder how they are in summer…..should paint it different colors … at least.. spice it up a bit.

  • Turyna October 2, 2010 at 12:45 PMLogin to Reply →

    Bacana isso! Parabens pela iniciativa.

  • Bernarddito October 3, 2010 at 00:36 AMLogin to Reply →

    Its beautiful when we see at the night.

  • ros ros October 3, 2010 at 06:58 AMLogin to Reply →

    looks interesting! i love the idea of recycling, it must have been quick to assemble. however, not sure about insulation though, does it get stinking hot in the summer and cold in the winter?

  • Alex October 4, 2010 at 15:11 PMLogin to Reply →

    Re. the questions about insulation, the ones we were looking at had decent r-values (not exceptionally efficient, but not bad either).

  • minimalstudio October 4, 2010 at 15:37 PMLogin to Reply →

    changeable architecture, awesome!
    big up

  • mary October 4, 2010 at 16:23 PMLogin to Reply →

    Doesn’t it get too hot or too cold?
    I mean, how’s the insulation..?

  • Cité a Docks: 100 Dorm Rooms Made from Shipping Containers | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World October 5, 2010 at 13:47 PMLogin to Reply →

    […] Havre, France. Their rooms are modern, light-filled and made from old shipping containers! Called Cité a Docks and designed by Cattani Architects, the minimalistic dwellings each come with a bathroom, a kitchen […]

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  • Rob Maguire October 6, 2010 at 19:45 PMLogin to Reply →

    I would love to see a block of small offices created in the same fashion. Or perhaps even a type of co-working project.

    I’d be interested in knowing the per unit cost in creating this project.

  • Charlotte October 7, 2010 at 07:58 AMLogin to Reply →

    I live here and to answer some of your questions, yes it does get cold at night but there are space heaters that keep the tempurate just right. In the day, the sun naturally warms it up and if it gets too hot I just open the window and that cools it to the right tempurature. It really is an awesome building project and I enjoy living here. The design is open but there’s not as much storage room as the designs show. The only complaint I can make is that there is no common area for the students to convene in and hang out but maybe I am just too used to American dorms!

  • Matthew Evans October 8, 2010 at 18:09 PMLogin to Reply →

    The issue of not having a common area seems to be a clue to the overall lack of site design. While the building seems to respond to some sense of ecologically sensitive design (reusing shipping containers), in the end the project seems completely disengaged with the local ecology. The design seems to be another example of architectural object-making. The landscape (a.k.a where students hang out, build community, and generate a sense of “place”) appears to be a forgotten remnant of the project. Maybe a retrofit should be in order?

  • Stephen Shang October 11, 2010 at 16:41 PMLogin to Reply →

    We’ve attempted to do this a couple of times in the US, but hit two barriers: city permitting and bank financing. Cities don’t understand that containers are just another building material. Banks don’t understand that these are just as good – if not better – than wood & concrete structures.

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  • James October 18, 2010 at 16:53 PMLogin to Reply →

    looks pretty cool, but how warm are they in winter?

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  • Swaeneveer January 6, 2011 at 10:38 AMLogin to Reply →

    ‘plagiarism is the finest form of flattery’, a famous writer once said about a century ago.

    Nice project, but these architects should give all credits to the dutch based company Tempohousing (, as they are the ‘inventors’ of these containerhouses, as well as initiators of the entire Le Havre project.

    Nevertheless Temophousing was kicked out the Tender proceeding without any motivation whatsoever, which did not hinder the French administration to provide these architects and other parties involved with all the Tempohousing know-how.

    Conclusion: this Le Havre project is a result of plagiarism and Crous shamelessly made use of all the Tempohousing designs and input, as given during many visits and meetings far before this project was subject of a Tender. To be precize; Crous promised Tempohousing at the time that Tempohousing would act as the supplier of the units, thus obtaining all information necessary to enable this project. Suddenly this project became subject of a ‘Tender’, which – off course – could only be won by the current developer.

    And, even worse, the French taxpayer paid the bill, since this current building is far more expensive than it would have been if the Tender rules were followed in a correct manner…… and promises towards Tempohousing were kept.

    So, nothing to be proud of. The city of Le Havre, the Crous as well as the University better shame themselves for this kind of protectionism and theft.

  • Jose L. Mejia Archtc February 21, 2011 at 19:38 PMLogin to Reply →

    I see a great approach on these type of projects for temporal or permanent solutions. Climate could be an issue if built on regions where winter could be an unsecured fact at stairways when those are open to the exterior. A solution on that could be enclosing the stairways and providing Green insulation systems. Adding a common area space could be a plus by doing two containers and creating two openings along the joining point.

    Let’s improve it.