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Shipping containers may provide affordable housing

But it remains to be seen if people enjoy living in repurposed steel husks

[WASHINGTON] They are the building blocks of the global economy, 20 million big steel boxes sloshing across oceans on mammoth container ships.

Starting yesterday, the first of 18 dented outcasts are set to be stacked in a dug-out Washington, DC, basement, turning a deteriorating student group house into an experiment in creating eye-catching housing, fast and on the cheap.

Among the questions raised by the effort: Can hundreds of thousands of discarded sea containers, long talked up by designers, really help create more affordable housing, or is it mostly a gimmick? And just how do you bring humanity to the confines of an 2.4-by-12-metre box?

If the economics work and people actually enjoy living...

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