CNN/ Stunning revival of the humble shipping container
Tehran (KNA) - In 1937, a young trucker named Malcolm McLean was delivering a load of cotton to a harbor in Hoboken, New Jersey. As he watched workers slowly transport the boxes by hand onto a ship, the story goes, he thought there had to be a better way to do it.
It turns out, there was: a big metal box that could be detached from the truck transporting it, and put on a ship. And about 20 years after first envisaging it, McLean was ready to show his invention to the world. He loaded a former war tanker with 58 "trailer vans," as The New York Times called them in 1956, and set off to change history.
Little did McLean know that the intermodal container, as it would later be called, would not only revolutionize trade by decimating the cost of shipping, but it would also find a second life through architecture.
Becoming a thing
Affordable, sturdy and obviously, easy to transport, containers found an alternative use outside of shipping ports in the 1960s as portable showcases for trade fairs.
But the first indication that someone wanted to make a "habitable building" out of one came from a 1987 patent application. Seven years later, futurist guru Stuart Brand of the counterculture magazine Whole Earth Catalog added to their profile with his book "How Buildings Learn," which he wrote in a converted container.