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Case Study: Salam Centre, Sudan

A closer look at Salam Centre in Sudan, made using shipping containers


Client: Emergency Ong Onlus
Designer: Tamassociati
Location: Sudan


Italian architecture firm Tamassociati used cargo containers at a site in Soba, Khartoum, to create staff accommodation for a hospital they had designed nearby. The architects used around ninety 20ft containers to provide homes for 60 staff, and seven 40ft containers to build a canteen. The firm had used the containers to transport materials to Soba, and felt re-using them would be more environmentally friendly than shipping them back. The development is highly sustainable, using shading and cooling techniques to protect against the harsh African sun.


The staff compound is on an 8,663 m2 site, with a total built-up area of 1,668 m2, on the banks of the Nile. The site contains some 150 trees, planted by the architects to offset the carbon they used transporting materials to Sudan.


Architect Raul Pantaleo explained that the development had both practical and political benefits, reducing the need to transport empty containers while also demonstrating a commitment to sustainable architecture. He also stressed that the firm only used containers that were no longer useful for shipping. “A lot of similar developments use brand new containers, but ours were rusty and broken. We wanted to use containers at the end of their lives,” he said.


The dwellings have two layers of insulation, with 5cm insulating panels inside and a bamboo screen panel system on the outside - as a result the sun is never directly on the containers. While the temperature of the metal can rise up to 65 degrees in summer, inside the cabins it is rarely more than 30 degrees without air conditioning.

The air conditioning system uses chilling machines powered by solar panels, which are also used to heat water. Thick stone walls at either end of the blocks help keep the buildings cool during the day.

Despite their sustainable credentials, Pantaleo said that the cabins were designed to look slick and modern. “We wanted to make them environmental but we also wanted to make something very modern in terms of design.” he said.

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