A few days ago, the Houston Business Journal reported that Phase 1 construction is to begin in 2016 on “The Railyard,” artist studio spaces made from shipping containers. Houston area artist Kelly Alison, along with her husband Preston, have been working with working with Houston-based Numen Development (which specializes in shipping container design) on the half-acre development that will include four structures. Each structure will include nine shipping containers stacked in a cube, to create three studios per structure (12 studios total). The first structure is expected to be complete next summer.
The Railyard will be close to the rail lines, located near I-10 off I-59, by the Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Alison, who has been looking for studio space for quite a while, remarked, “There are lots of art studios close to that part of town, on Winter and Sawyer, and they fill up really fast. They always have a long waiting list.”
If the shipping container artist community idea sounds familiar, it may be because artist Nestor Topchy has been envisioning HIVE Houston for several years now. The mission of the HIVE (Habitable Interdisciplinary Visionary Environment) is “to design and build an affordable, sustainable, inhabitable work of art as a community.” As an even more ambitious project, Phase 1 is not set to begin until January 2018, with full completion set for 2025.
Alison is not stealing any ideas from Topchy, referred to in his Wikipedia entry as “one of the Houston art world’s great visionaries.” In fact, Alison serves on the board of HIVE Houston and Topchy recently noted on Facebook that “we are all helping each other out with asymmetrical projects, of course.”
It’s just that shipping container architecture is too fun to resist. Allyn West (of Rice Design Alliance, OffCite, and Swamplot) tweeted yesterday in response to the HBJ article: “Shipping containers are the adult version of refrigerator boxes.”