Life in a box: Luxurious shipping containers as home

Life in a box: Luxurious shipping containers as home

By PREETI SINGH | | 30 July, 2016
The key aspect in designing these boxes is an in-depth knowledge of the structure of the container.

Can you imagine living in a luxurious 20/40-ft portable  shipping container? “In the Box Space” based in Gurgaon has arrived with a one-stop solution that allows one to live in a compact portable package, exclusively designed to meet one’s definite requirement.

In the Box Space is the brainchild of Neeraj Khandelwal and Inderpreet Kaur, owned by design and build firm Vesna Inc, which has significantly been a part of several famed local and international projects. 

Neeraj Khandelwal is an entrepreneur and the founder and partner of In the Box Space. He speaks to Guardian 20 about their unique idea and why it would be an environment-friendly option in India.

Q. How did you come up with this idea?

A. In the year  2015, I and Inderpreet went for a family vacation to Amsterdam and the site of millions of container on the Rotterdam port left us speechless. Back home after doing a detailed study, we (each of the three partners, Neeraj, Arpita and Inderpreet) realised that containers were mainly used where conventional buildings were not allowed. Nobody in the market had explored that living out of a container could be a great experience, if done properly and so the journey started.

Q. Why do you think is the set-up of shipping containers better than the regular spaces?

A. It is ideal in all the situations as they are efficiently designed to withstand any natural calamity such as earthquakes or hurricanes. It is also great for areas where building is not permitted, furthermore, these are portable so you could take your getaaway home to a new location as per weather conditions or move your hotel room to meet demands in various parts of the country.

Q. How tough is it to design these boxes according to customers’ choices?

A. The process is very different from the brick and mortar building method. The key aspect in designing these boxes is an in-depth knowledge of the structure of the container. By changing the physical structure of the box we compromise on strength so it is critical to ensure that the strength is not compromised by combining different building methods. Designing smaller spaces is always harder, but if done well, especially with the right use of lighting and layout, these hurdles can avoided.

Q. Can you share with us how these boxes are being made into a particular room or bar?

A. These boxes are cut/welded, insulated and then furnished into the type of space a customer wants, which could be a room where he can entertain his guests — such as a home theatre, painting gallery, spa, bar over even a hotel room. We can use more than one container to create multi-storeyed spaces as well.

“ It is ideal in all the situations as it is efficiently designed to withstand any natural calamity such as earthquakes or hurricanes. It is also great for areas where building is not permitted.”

Q. How is it environment friendly?

A. Each of these containers is about 3,500 kg of steel and it takes roughly 8000 kw of energy to manufacture one 20 feet container. Recycling these shipping containers is not financially viable as it takes a lot of energy, that is why millions of such containers are lying idle on the ports. Putting it to re-use is just something we could think naturally. We do sometimes see them being used as temporary site offices with basic facilities. In the Box Space wants to put these containers to better use. The experience of living out of a container can be unparalleled if done properly.

Neeraj Khandelwal.Q. Is it cost friendly?

A. It totally depends on the requirement of the individual, but it;s normally between Rs 8-20 lakh.

Q. Tell us about your various projects, about Vesna Inc., a build and design firm of In the Box Space

A. Vesna Inc., part of Esspex Corporation, Japan, is a design consultancy and interior construction company. We started in the year 2006, dealing in luxury wall coverings, brand specialising in wallpapers, wall stickers, wall panels and manufacturing stone veneers in India.

As a company, we have been designing spaces for five years now in the international market and have had the privilege to work with several award winning designers, such as David Collins, UK and Cheung Chang Design, HK. We started focusing on India only about a year ago and have completed some high street residential apartments.

We also came up with this idea, In the Box Space about three month ago and we have already received a phenomenal response from both individuals and the hospitality industry.

Q. What are your future plans in terms of In the Box Space?

A. We want to be responsive to emerging trends and see the future as offering multifold opportunities, thus we want to be able to broaden the scope of using containers beyond the services we are providing, such as the recreational dwelling units, restaurants and shops, and homes and farmhouses.

We are looking to collaborate with hotels to provide low-cost staying facilities for the young travelling in India, as the number of backpackers to India, both Indians and foreigners is increasing every year. At a time, where the hotel industry is facing a fierce competition, finding new ways to cater to the needs of the travellers whilst maintaining the cost is critical.

Going forward, I see growth not only in the private sector, but also in the government sector. We see ourselves being a part of the Smart India initiative that Prime Minster Narendra Modi has taken to provide cost effective housing solutions.

Furthermore,  Vesna Inc would also like to create conventional spaces using eco-friendly products, for example, by making furniture out of shipping pallets  and giving more natural and earthy feel to spaces.

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