sábado, 8 de octubre de 2011

Architecture. The shipping container

The shipping container, you see, is something of a minature, portable, re-definable border. When it is sealed, goods are frozen in their country of origin, and cannot be removed from that country through any physical operation short of breaking the seal and stealing them. In this way, the shipping container is like a bizarre embassy: portable instead of stationary, for goods instead of people, logistical instead of architectural, but similarly self-contained and exported territory. Both the shipping container and the embassy reveal that borders are, at the same time, fictional — receiving their status as entities that exist through the agreement to treat them as though they exist, and thus being as malleable as we collectively decide we want them to be — and quite capable of affecting material relations, as noting that they are fictional by no means implies that they lack the capacity to draw geographies or generate landscapes.
[...] No person could arrive at the border of the United States, declare himself a microcosm of China, and travel freely to the airport customs line of her choosing; the comparative freedom granted to the movement of goods seems appropriately representative of the relative primacy of consumer goods in the post-Fordist economy. Perversely, the container is even co-opted by people desperate to emigrate from or immigrate to certain nation-states — essentially, people attempt to pass as goods, in order to obtain the legal advantages conveyed on goods.
[...] Even though the spatial qualities of the box are transformative, the form of the container is ultimately not what it is interesting about the container; what is interesting and important about the container is the way that it enables and generates new landscapes. This is not to say that is impossible to do interesting architecture with shipping containers. It is just as possible to do interesting architecture with shipping containers as it is possible to do interesting architecture with chain-link fence, corrugated aluminum, or any other industrial material. But the power of the shipping container cannot be appropriated by using the object in alternate contexts, because the power of the object comes from its capacity to shape its context.
Keller Easterling said this well in a 1999 piece for Perspecta, “The New Orgman”; though the portion of the piece that we quote here refers to the architecture of mid-century suburbia, the piece later touches on ports and containers, and the quote applies equally well to the container:
“The architecture [is] organizational. The organizational protocol [is] not merely that which facilitate[s] architecture; it [is] architecture… For architects, nouns and objects that can be identified with formal nomenclature are more familiar than processes, verbs, and games. It is hard to grasp the idea that the medium is the message or that the organization is the content.”
Hard, but worthwhile.

"Border box", mammoth.

1 comentario:

  1. If you want to know more about the various uses of shipping containers, you ought to go to the ShippingContainers24 website.