Connex: Shipping Containers Become Office Building

The innovative construction project in Fort Worth will have a zero-energy approach and will utilize recycled materials.

shipping containers

A unique three-story office building soon will occupy a lot near downtown Fort Worth that will be built from shipping containers and targeted at the micro-office user.

The project, called Connex, will be at 1201 Evans Ave. near Rosedale Avenue, and is the work of Matthijs and Jie Melchiors, partners and founders of the MEL/ARCH architecture studio.

The project’s name comes from a dictionary term for a large, steel-reinforced reusable container used for shipping military cargo or which can be used for temporary accommodations when properly modified. Groundbreaking for the project will be Thursday.

“It’s going to be an iconic building in FW.”
Matthijs Melchiors

“It’s going to be an iconic building in FW,” Matthijs Melchiors told Dallas Innovates.

The building will have enough space for 30 business, and will include common areas, restrooms, and a break room. While the offices are optimized for one occupant, they can work well for two or three people when configured properly, Melchiors said.

The architecture studio is part of Idea Works FW, an incubator program aimed at business startups. MEL/ARCH has nearly completed the incubator program and will occupy some of the top-floor units at Connex.

“I’ve been interested in shipping containers for a long time,” said Melchiors, who plans to use recycled materials throughout the project.

“Using recycled materials is something we believe in,” he said. Recycled glazing (windows) are incorporated into the design, for example.

“Recycled materials help with cost savings,” Melchiors said. “Brand new materials are easier, but more expensive.”

Using recycled materials takes Melchiors back to his early days.

“We want those containers to feel open and spacious as possible.”
Matthijs Melchiors

“It goes back to my upbringing.” said the architect who is from the Netherlands where residents make sure “you recycle and reuse everything you can.”

Each of the shipping containers — which were bought new in China — will have individual air-conditioned units and will be insulated like a refrigerator.

Connex will be a zero-energy building, Melchiors said. And, there will be vegetation and vegetable gardens in the project.

“We want those containers to feel open and spacious as possible,” Melchiors said.

Keeping the sun off the buildings is the top priority, Melchiors told Dallas Innovates.

“Offsetting the building on the south side will create natural shade,” he said. “It will be both pleasing to look at and works very well.”

The project will be built near the Guinn Complex on Rosedale where the Idea Works FW incubator is located.

“The nice thing about that is that it’s in a somewhat underdeveloped area,” Melchiors said. “They saw that our building can really spur growth.”

“The nice thing about that is that it’s in a somewhat underdeveloped area.”
Matthijs Melchiors

The doors will be removed from the shipping containers and will be welded together to form the vegetable garden, Melchiors said.

Windows will replace the doors, and the units will have solar panels on the roofs.

“We’re planning on incorporating turbine trees,” Melchiors said. “They aren’t real live trees. They are made out of pipes and steel. They’re like a kit that bolts together.”

The turbines also will create an aesthetic.

“As they turn, they give the illusion of leaves moving in the wind,” Melchiors said.

MEL/ARCH plans to open Connex at the end of October or early November.

“There will be 30 rentable units,” Melchiors said. “We’re pre-leased at about 40 percent.”

Jana Pruet contributed to this report.

[Rendering Courtesy MEL/ARCH]

shipping containers

[Rendering Courtesy MEL/ARCH]


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