Container housing in Philippines
  • 14 Jun 2017

We have been to Philippines at the end of May for overlooking container housing industry. What a coincidence to meet the earthquake at night of 25 May from north of Manila.

Combined with material on the internet, here is some information need to know about Philippines container house market.

Utilizing shipping container as a building block for construction have enumerated its positive qualities, the most common factors that have been noted are:

  • By recycling shipping containers that are no longer usable for shipping purposes, thereby considered as ‘junk’, one may do his part in reducing the sources of pollution / eyesore that abound in local ports
  • While these containers are no longer considered seaworthy, particularly in terms of transporting food, it is still structurally sound especially when provided with a good foundation
  • In the light of lowering the construction cost and increasing the speed of construction, a shipping container has the advantage because basically, it already is a shell (i.e. it already has walls, floor, and ceiling)
  • Since the material is actually considered as ‘junk’, one may purchase it at a relatively low price, thereby possibly lowering the total construction cost

However, it is important to note that shipping containers, as a livable space, is not a perfect material. Aside from the stigma usually applied to it due to its unsightly appearance (more particularly when it is already battered), the fact remains that it is a steel box which may be affected by moisture and is a good conductor of heat.

Also there are some challenge in Philippines, the hot-humid climate of the Philippines may prove fatal to this type of housing unit, especially if the unit proves to be difficult to ventilate naturally, since the urban poor are expected to employ only this type of ventilation with occasional aid from electric fans (i.e. air conditioning units are not used to ventilate the unit). Also, since the country is prone to typhoons, a question arises on whether the structural stability of this type of unit can sustain typical wind speeds during typhoons and whether the frequent rains will not corrode the material.

Before quoting some data we need to go through a program named MRH (Medium-rise housing) run by NHA (National Housing Authority)

An in-city housing alternative that entails the construction of three- to five-storey buildings. The Medium Rise Public Housing Program is implemented directly by NHA, utilizing the allocation for the Program under RA 7835 and units are made available under lease arrangement. On the other hand, the Medium Rise Private Housing Program is implemented directly by NHA or in joint venture with other government agencies and/or the private sector.

According to the primer given by NHA regarding the Medium-Rise Housing Program, medium and high-rise housing projects in the Philippines began on 1953 with the Bagong Barangay Housing Project. Various projects and models succeeded this. MRBs that began as 3-storey models shifted to high-rise models (i.e. 7 storeys) in an attempt to provide a larger number of housing units. However, issues regarding maintenance and congestion that resulted to the deterioration of the MRBs led to the restriction on the number of storey to 4 or 5 as was seen in the subsequent MRBs constructed by NHA.

Figure1: typical MRH model layout

This MRH is made up of ten 5-story building with units whose floor area

varies from 22.50 sqm. (5.00 m. x 4.50 m) to 24.00 sqm. (4.00 m. x 6.00 m.). Units are offered to low-income families who have successfully submitted the requirements to the NHA office and have passed the financial screening test.

As a core housing project, units are sold with minimal finishes. While the exterior have been painted, the unit’s interior is left unpainted (i.e. plastered cement finish). The kitchen countertop as well as the floor and walls (i.e. 1.20 m. high) of the T & B are finished with ceramic tiles. As of May 31, 2004, the cheapest unit is priced Php 227, 000.00. This is a 22.50 sqm. unit located on the 5th floor. A ground floor corner unit with a floor area of 24.00 sqm., on the other hand, is the most expensive unit, priced at Php 469, 350.00. However in the flyer for the most recently finished NHA MRH project in Camarin, Caloocan, these units are priced at Php 275,000.00 and Php 475,000.00, respectively.

Figure2: 24sqm MRH plan                   Figure3: Similar container house unit

All information listed in the succeeding tables are based on data by research of Josefina Santos de Asis, for more detailed comparison data can refer to his pdf file

As demonstrated by the tables above, based on the categories on which the 2 housing types were investigated, Container Housing is a feasible solution for Low-Cost Housing in the Philippines or at least, it performs as well as that of a Conventional Medium-Rise Housing unit. Also, analysis from the information gathered through the study indicates that the strongest feature of this type of material lie in (1) its capacity for speedy construction not only through prefabrication but also through the method of construction (i.e. lifting and stacking the units like ‘Lego’ blocks); and in (2) its capacity to be easily dismantled and transferred to a different site.

Modo Container would like to conclude, the well-insulated prefab container, integrated simple furniture and appliance like electric fan, elevated on correct foundation, is a feasible, solid solution for hot-humid, typhoon, earthquake Philippines.

Welcome enquiry first class container team, happy to assist.

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