The average high-sea container is not on duty for very long and the last trip usually goes to the scrap yard. Ivan Mallinowski and Michael Haiser from the start-up Containerwerk have recognized the potential of containers: They save used containers from being scrapped and convert them into living space. Building with used containers – the idea is not new, but the start-up has still managed to make its steel colossuses unique. They offer more living space than other residential containers and have been converted using sustainable materials. In addition, it only takes six weeks from the raw container to the apartment ready for occupancy. This is made possible by a great deal of inventive expertise.
Ivan is the innovator of the founding duo. He has developed an industrial process, without any competitors with which the containers can be quickly converted. An invention that solves the biggest problem in container construction plays a major role here: Insulation. Completely made of metal, the raw containers are unsuitable to live in before conversion. They conduct heat and noise unfiltered into the interior and therefore require good insulation. With a maximum width of 2.32 centimeters, the 40 centimeters of insulation usually used in construction takes away valuable living space. The insulation of Containerwerk is only 10 centimeters thick, monolithic and consists of completely recyclable materials. This is made possible by a robot that Ivan has developed within two years. The system insulates a container fully automatically in just two hours. No one has ever done this before. And to keep it that way, 16 cameras guard the production plant, which is located in a building without windows.
Ivan’s passion for ingenuity became apparent early on: “Even as a child I didn’t use my toys for playing, but always took them apart first,” he says.
Ivan has neither studied nor undergone any training – a real autodidact. Nevertheless, he was successful early on and brought many of his inventions to patent maturity. Among his customers are well-known companies such as IBM and the Fraunhofer Institute. Ivan implemented the first twenty projects completely in his garage – with a lathe and a small CNC milling machine. The projects always had something in common: The result was unique. 18 years ago, he developed a TFT plasma screen for IBM on which the exhibition stand could be explored in a virtual 3D world. For Jägermeister he built a 17 meter high tower of liqueur bottles equipped with 219 LED monitors.
Even as a child I didn’t use my toys for playing, but always took them apart first.
Looking back, he says: “By teaching yourself many things, you are unburdened on one side, but on the other side you also have to work on every topic from scratch.”
With the projects, the desire to produce a sustainable product grew along with the experience. Ivan came up with the brilliant idea during a project with the Fraunhofer Institute. The order was to build the “hotel room of the future” – in a high-sea container. Gradually it turned out that it is actually possible to transform a steel container into a comfortable and luxurious hotel room. Enthusiastic about the result, Ivan’s passion for containers was awakened and the foundation was laid for Containerwerk. Containerwerk now employs 20 people. Production takes place in Wassenberg, near Mönchengladbach on a 30,000 m2 site.
“Living in a container,” offers Ivan many new possibilities and a solution to the current problem of housing shortage. For example, residential containers could be used for student residences, which often lie fallow for years before development. Since they can be transported with any normal freight carrier, the containers, which do not require a foundation, are quickly assembled and quickly removed. If more apartments are needed, the building complex can be extended quickly and easily with additional containers. This mobility of the containers can also be advantageous for many other applications: Hotels, laboratories, social housing or office complexes. Containerwerk already has so many concrete projects that the production halls have to be enlarged. Ivan’s vision is to establish the container as a residential option in the private sector as well. This would fundamentally change the way we move in the future. Then we no longer move from one house to the next, but simply take our house with us.