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  w/ Rafaela Ahsan & Peter Doan  


   Host_ ENACTUS: Sea Cans    



  • To design a halfway-housing complex in Iqaluit, Nunavut... using shipping containers.

  • To create a modular, adaptable form of housing that can grow with the community. 

  • Provide space for retail, housing, bathrooms, workshops, and social gatherings.

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Sea Can('t)s: the Cower Plant

Are shipping containers really an answer?


If the competition body is asking for a modular, expandable, and openly-configurable system, how can this be done if each unit requires its own HVAC, plumbing, and electrical connectivity? How does the northern climate and lifestyle factor into housing based on shipping containers as a building block? 


With the desire for a range of (questionably culturally inappropriate) programming, a clear uncertainty in the real function of a Northern halfway house was apparent. A quick internet search yielded a multitude of pre-existing interior layouts and other built projects using shipping containers – how can we move beyond the typical and explore a culturally and situationally sensitive project? Instead of imposing our transplanted ‘southern’ ideas of a transitioning lifestyle through the built environment - we aim to promote a sense of personal ownership and rehabilitation through the creation of new living spaces.



The Sea Can('t)s project is an expandable framework of development, which becomes unique to its specific site - wherever that may be - and capable of growth dependable on its internal success. Using the motif of a universally known life-giver, the Cower Plant is first erected on-site, housing the sources of heating/cooling, water, and electricity for the new development. The central Cower Plant has a four-sided grid of ports allowing for incoming program, various degrees of insulated shipping containers, to latch on to, giving them life. As the containers feed from the central core, their systems create a colorful web of insulated pipes, eventually becoming the scaffold for a central shared canopy.

 Through the proposition of a system of production that implicates the inhabitants, the community can build itself in the ways that it desires. The community members themselves have a role in the planning, preparation, manufacturing, and connection of the greater community as it grows. The project’s framework outlines ways in which various containers might be outfitted for various programs, be situated relatively to one another, and come together in communal living situations. For a culture which is historically rooted in family, communal work and play, contemporary tools for living must be made relevant to their lifestyles.

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