Living Space Made for Disaster
Ramon Mena Owens, The Desert Sun
Theodore T. Ciotti invented “Containerized Habitable Structures” made from decommissioned shipping containers. Aquentium of Palm Springs builds the portable housing units for natural disaster relief and other housing solutions.
Aquentium Inc. has unveiled a deployable disaster-relief housing structure created from a used shipping container.The sample unit is a 20-foot container that became a fold-out, 450-square-foot housing structure. It features two bedrooms and one bathroom containing a sink, toilet and shower. There's also a kitchen area and living room.
Ferdie De Vega
The Desert Sun
March 30, 2006
Inventor Ted Ciotti says there's a simple reason behind his idea to turn a 20-foot shipping container into a deployable, fold-out housing structure.
"I saw a need that wasn't being addressed, and that was low-cost housing and disaster housing," said Ciotti, whose family is in the construction business.
One year ago, Palm Springs-based Aquentium Inc. entered into an exclusive licensing and marketing agreement with Ciotti, said company president Mark Taggatz.
Aquentium is a public company with interests in low-income and disaster relief housing, food safety and automotive, energy and recycling industries. The company is located at 19125 N. Indian Ave., in north Palm Springs.
Aquentium is a made-up name designed to convey sustained growth or sustained development, said Taggatz.
Ciotti received a patent for the disaster-relief housing structure in January, Taggatz said.
"Because of (Hurricane) Katrina, people are more aware of housing issues," he said.
Taggatz said the sample unit was made with a used, 20-foot shipping container.
The container became a 450-square-foot, two-bedroom housing structure with one bathroom containing a sink, toilet and shower. There's also a kitchen area and living room. The unit is wired for cable television and telephone service.
Once it's deployed, the container unfolds, creating an expanded living space. It takes less than an hour to set up, Taggatz said.
The housing structure can be used "for any disaster - tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, fires."
Twenty-foot or 40-foot containers can be used, Ciotti said.
Many used, empty containers are sitting in ports because of the cost to ship them back, he said. "We can recycle old containers, or we can have purpose-built containers done."
The cost is $50,000 per structure, Taggatz said, noting the company's business model shows 100 manufacturing facilities around the world in five years.
"We will also be very competitive in the low-income (housing) market," he said.
The company showed the structure last week in Los Angeles at the Income Builders International Global Forum, a CEO and entrepreneur trade show and training conference.
Ciotti said the shipping containers can be handled at any port, and they can be stacked five high.
A 40-foot container can be converted into four-bedroom, one bath housing structure, or into a duplex, he said.
The applications for the containers include a disaster-relief house, school, church, mess hall or administration offices, Ciotti said.
The walls are made of Structural Insulated Panels, which unfold from the shipping container, he said. Those walls can be folded into the container and be moved to another location.
The shipping container and Structural Insulated Panels can resist hurricanes, Ciotti said. The sample structure weighs 12,000 pounds.
Taggatz said the company has not marketed the product yet.
Aquentium will contact foreign embassies about their countries' abandoned shipping containers and to determine what the need for housing is, he said.
Taggatz also noted cities and insurance companies could have the converted shipping containers on reserve for natural disasters.
The federal government, foreign governments, foundations, schools systems, hospitals and businesses also are potential customers, he said.
Aquentium's goal is "to recycle something that's of no use to anybody and improve the living standards worldwide," Taggatz said.
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