Photo courtesy of BMarko Structures

Modified shipping containers may be part of the wave of the future when it comes to middle-market and affordable senior living, according to a webinar discussion earlier this month among gerontology students at the University of Southern California.

The school’s Student Gerontology Association welcomed speakers from modular construction company BMarko Structures to discuss the possibilities around repurposing shipping containers into more affordable senior housing communities to help meet the sector’s growing demand. BMarko representatives, including Tiago Atwi, production manager, and Mateo Atwi, operations manager, explained how the horizontal and vertical conjunction of multiple shipping containers, or modules, can make for large-scale and efficient buildings, including for senior housing. 

“While they might still look like shipping containers on the outside, their respective interiors come with furniture, lighting, and plenty of space for whatever purpose,” the speakers said. This type of modular construction works for both apartment-style senior housing and also for a “village” of individual, detached modular homes for seniors, according to the firm. Individual senior living modular homes could be arranged, for example, around a central garden area or a communal building for meals or activities.

Modular construction with shipping containers also is sustainable, efficient and flexible, the speakers noted. In addition, modular systems can help provide more manageable and affordable assisted living communities across the country, said USC Leonard Davis School Lecturer Josh Johnson, who also is chief operating officer at West Bay Senior Living.

“If you can make it much less expensive, then maybe there’s an application for more affordable assisted living, which is needed nationwide,” Johnson said.