Designing inside the box for forward-looking life


Frequently Asked Questions

Below is the compilation of questions submitted related to the Student Competition. Please review when preparing for your submission.

Q: In this flexible model 10% of the space will need to flex between public facing when in ‎the open to the public mode and private facing when in the completely online mode. The rest of ‎the space allows for 45% of the space to be public facing and 45% of the space to be private ‎living space. So, does the 10% needs to be both public and private? Such as able to switch back and forth depending on what it needed at the specific time? What does it mean by public vs online mode.

A: The 10% of the business part of the shipping container area needs to be available to be used for both the public and private spaces. For example, when the store opens to the public, 10% of the space that was being used for selling online might need to be used to expand the showroom area, or cash/wrap area. Conversely, when the store is only selling online, the 10% of the space that was showroom space is used for the packing and shipping area. It is convertible space and that can be used as the type of selling mode changes. These are only examples of how the space could be used and should not be considered the “answer” to how this should be accomplished.

Q: On page 3/8 in section entitled Overall Considerations for the Project, it is stated: Containers can be stacked…the transition between the containers needs to be protected from all weather. Does this mean that the stair can be added to the outside of the container if it is enclosed?

A: Yes, if a staircase is added to the outside it will need to be enclosed with the methods of the student’s choosing. If it is completely enclosed, it can be on the outside. Interior staircases are also allowed.

Q: Additional structural elements cannot be added to the space beyond the elements needed to create doorways, windows, or connections between the containers. By this statement, do you mean that the containers are assumed to be structural and a window, for instance, would need headers and framed out?

A: The frame of a shipping container cannot be cut because it will lose all structural integrity. The frame is the skeleton of the container. Windows or doors added to the container will nee to be framed as the metal wall that one would be cutting through is not enough to sustain a door or window.

Q: Could you provide a few examples of “structural elements” that would not be allowed if added, according to the rules of the competition? (For example, I assume adding a balcony would not be allowed)

A: Structural elements that would not be allowed could include, but are not limited to, balconies, corner window (because they would cut the frame of the container), raising the roof of the container, rooftop living areas that are not structurally supported by elements other than the top of the container (the container walls are not structural in the sense of allowing for a walking surface), etc. The corrugated surface of a shipping container is not the structural stabilizing elements it is the frame, so the frame cannot be cut, and the walls and ceiling are non-supporting elements.

Q: Can enclosed exterior stairs be added to the outside of the shipping container? (It seems that stairs would qualify as a connection between containers and therefore, would be allowed.)  

A: Yes, see above regarding enclosing stairwells.

Q: Program states that the passageways need to be enclosed.  Can that be on the exterior if it is enclosed? 

A: Yes, enclosed exterior passageways fall in the definition as an enclosed passageway.

Q: What about insulation? That would require additional framing to reach an R value to accommodate a metal container in a hot and humid climate. Is that OK? Technically, not structural.

A: Insulation is an acceptable element to add to a shipping container.

Q: Can they change the shape of the roof to a pitched roof or does it need to remain flat?

A: The pitch of the roof can be changed, but the metal roof of the container will need to remain in place. So, the sheet metal on the roof cannot be cut to “pop-up” the roof. A new roof with the new pitch would need to be built.

Q: Can a container be cut in half and attached?

A: No, the containers cannot be cut because that would mean that the frame would be cut, and the structural integrity of the container is lost is the frame is cut.

Q: The directions say you cannot have a roof top setting, but could they have a balcony or deck scenario?

A: Please refer to question 3 regarding rooftop living areas.

Q: Can they layout landscaping around the containers.

A: Students can add landscaping around the containers.

Q: Can you have like a covered / enclosed area to go to another container?

A: Yes, you can enclose an area, like a passageway to get between two containers.

Q: Can containers be stacked?

A: Yes, containers can be stacked if they are stack in a way that the corners of the containers are on top of each other. Again, the frame of the box is the main structural support and it is designed to be stack on a container of the same size. They cannot be stacked in a way that is offset or “balanced” on other shipping containers without major structural supports like I-beams which is outside the scope of interior design.

Q: States windows, doors can be added – can skylights?

A:  Containers can have skylights.

Q: Can we add solar panels on top of the containers?

A: Solar panels can be added.

Q: Can we add a roof structure if the container will support it?

A: An additional roof can be added, to change the slope for example, however, the container cannot be cut. So, an additional roof cannot be added to raise the interior ceiling height.

Q: Is it acceptable for the students to use the site assigned in studio or do they have to each select a different site specifically for the IDEC competition?

A: If the site selected for the IDEC competition follows the governing requirements for the competition, participants are welcome to use a site assigned in class that may, or may not, be part of additional projects in the course. Please see the requirements for the site and the reference materials to guide the site selection decision.

Q: Is it the intent of the competition organizers that we locate the site somewhere within our local community (meaning the location of our University)?

A: The intent is to be placed in a location that may be familiar with the person or team members. It does not need to be near the university. Research of products of the area and or site is important in creating a solution

Q: Does Labor Day “count” as one of the 21 project days if it falls during the project period?

A: The project should be considered in weeks, not days. So, the three-week timeframe does not consider holidays, weekends, or any other days on which the class does not formally meet. Thus the project takes three weeks, regardless of the holidays or other events that occur during the three-week time period.

Q: Can we assume that if 2 containers are placed on the same level [side by side, or canted to one another] that a connection corridor can be created.  If so, is there a limit on the size of that transition? This questions stems from this line of the Overall Considerations for the Project paragraph. 

A: A corridor can be created between side by side containers. The size limits are dependent on the building codes (egress, deadened corridors, residential vs. commercial, etc.) for that area of the project.

Q: We are assume that the social distancing aspect is to be addressed on the business side of this project, not the residential side.  Please confirm. 

A: Social distancing is a consideration for the business side of the project. Currently, the CDC is not recommending social distancing in residential indoor spaces, thus this project will not be requiring residential social distancing.

Q: Can the project include built outdoor spaces like patios, decks, shade structures, etc?

A: This project can include outdoor elements. However, as we are interior designers, the focus is on the interior and interior-like elements that can be outside.

Q: There are two identical storage areas listed in the program; the Storage room and within the Maker Space.  Are there really two storage spaces or just one and the Maker Space needs access to it?

A: The storage area information is one in the same. However, students could make two spaces if that works better in their design.

Q: Can the shipping containers be cut into pieces and the pieces be reassembled (with appropriate structure) as needed?

A: Openings can be cut into the steel skin of the container for doorways, windows, etc. and the parts removed for the openings could be repurposed, but the frame of the container cannot be cut. Cutting the frame of the container removes the structural integrity of the box and requires knowledge that is outside the scope of interior designer education in order to recreate load bearing walls and openings. 

Q:  Under the overall considerations for the project, It says Additional structural elements cannot be added to the space beyond the elements needed to ‎create doorways, windows, or connections between the containers.” ‎ Does that mean we can add a connections such as a covered or uncovered bridge ? Or what type of connections does this phrase mean?

A: As the structure should be a zero grade, a bridge would not be needed. However, a walkway or passageway between the containers would be appropriate.

Q: Is this meant to be disassembled and moved/ or is this permanent structure? If portable, would building codes for permanent structures (IBC) apply to this structure? Would it be treated like a mobile home?

A: The structure is intended to be permanent, thus mobile home codes do not apply.

Q: What kind of items are they selling? Is it traditional Navajo textiles or modern textile products inspired by traditional Navajo textiles or culture?

A: The artist is a native Navajo weaver. He or she is weaving Navajo textiles on a traditional Navajo loom.

Q: Can we add temporary elements like fabric canopies?

A: Fabric canopies can be added.

Q: Are there specific criteria for what is needed in the photography area?

A: The students will need to research how artists photograph their work for online sales, what is included in the studio, how they store the items, etc. This is part of the student’s research.

Q: Is the half bath used for the store guests?

A: No, the half bath is for the artist’s personal guests in their home.

Q: Can you select a site with an abandoned or condemned building and choose to demolish the building to make way for the container structure, or does the site have to be vacant (devoid of buildings) when selected?

A: The site could currently have a structure in place, as described in the question. The location of the site selected simply must meet the criteria set out in the program.

Q: If we were to tilt or cantilever a container, can we incorporate a structural element to hold up the containers?

A: No, adding structural elements to the containers is outside the scope of interior designers.

Q: If we choose to stack the containers, can the staircase be located outside of the structure?

A: The containers can be stacked with the outside staircase, as long as the staircase is protected from all weather.

Q: Can we place any of the containers underground?

A: No, the programming specifies that the shipping container must be at zero grade.

Q:What are the limitations to the roof design?

A: A roof can be added to the top of the container, but the original shipping container roof cannot be cut. Thus a change in roof line doesn’t add any height to the space.

Q: Can we change the exterior material of the containers?

A: No, the exterior of the shipping container should maintain the steel skin. The skin could be painted.

Q: Reinforcement of structure (columns, beams) from added weight of roof, flooring, etc? Do we need to figure out if additional structure needs to be implemented?

A: No, the buildings do not need structural supports, as when the shipping containers are stacked with overlapping corners in the top and bottom container, the containers are structurally stable. The containers are designed so that they can be stacked any units high from transport on cargo shipping with very heavy items inside. Students are encouraged to complete due diligence research of how the containers are designed to stack.

Q: The program mentioned those additional structural elements cannot be added beyond windows, doors, or connections between the containers. If a container is hypothetically parallel to each other, are there limitations on how much extra space can be added?
Or is that “connection” intended to be a corridor of some sort?
What is considered a connection between containers?

A: Connections between containers can be corridors or simply a doorway or pass-through window.

Q: Is the life partner’s gender up for interpretation?

A: Yes, gender is not specified for the clients.

Q: Do we need to choose a specific site? As in a specific plot of land?

A: See the programming for specifics on the site selection and how to choose the exact location.

Q: What is the size of the largest pieces of textiles?

A: The size of the traditional textiles can be a research opportunity for the students, however, they cannot be any wider than the loom, of course.

Q: The 55% of this program that is “public-facing” should be accessible, follow ADA and the commercial code (International Building Code)?

A: Yes

Q: The remaining 45%, or “private living space” should follow the International Residential Code and does not necessarily have to be “accessible” as there are no client issues in that regard?

A: Yes

Q: Does the commercial space need additional half bath? If so, bathroom should be accessible?

A: A commercial restroom was not required in the program but could be added if desired. If a commercial restroom is added, the restroom must meet IBC code.

Q: What is project expectation about universal design?

A: Tenets of Universal Design should be employed/ addressed in the project to the best of the student’s ability.

Questions or inquiries should be directed to: studentcompetition@idec.org