National 8.2.2014 01.00 pm

Container-living is weird, but cool

The finishing touches are being done on the Mill Junction, Newtown, Johannesburg 5 February 2014. The containers that were placed on old grain silos are being occupied by students and will officially launch next week. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark
Living in a container overlooking Johannesburg is weird, but pretty cool at the same time, says University of Johannesburg student Thabo Mnjdi.

When he saw a flyer about Mill Junction, a new development in Newtown offering innovative accommodation in containers, he was prompted to see the unique structure for himself.

Mnjdi, a second year psychology student from Tembisa on the East Rand, said he fell in love with the setting, style and environment, and moved in this past Saturday.

“I love it here; inside it feels normal, like a regular apartment. It is a very stable and homely environment and I’m hoping it runs smoothly as more people move in,” said Mnjdi.

“My family was a bit taken aback when they saw the containers, but came around after inspecting my room on the 12th floor and seeing that it is quite safe.”

The inspiration to add containers to the side and top of the 10 storey grain silos along Carr Street came from Australia and Europe.

Property development group Citiq confirmed that construction was completed in January, with students already taking occupation.

The group acquired the grain silos, estimated to be about 50 years old, between 2007 and 2008 at a cost of R4 million. Total building costs were about R30 million.

Specialised equipment had to be imported, including a grinding and polishing machine from China used for the floors and a diamond-titanium blade used to cut windows into the silos.

Construction foreman Dean Bolton took The Saturday Citizen on a tour of the structure. He said the 15-storey building was wheelchair accessible, with two floors dedicated to wheelchair-bound people.

“We had about 120 students that signed up to live here in the first three days. We expect that number to skyrocket as universities are opening and students are in need of quality accommodation,” said Bolton.

“Occupation was approved last week Monday and students started streaming in.”

Single premium rooms are available for R3 200; a single standard room goes for R2 800; while a room with two sharing goes for R2 500 per month.

Occupants will also enjoy free Wi-Fi, as well as free access to a shuttle service that will transport them to and from university.

South Africa’s first conversion of grain silos was in the form of the R10 million, six-storey transformation of the Biscuit Mill in Cape Town.

Johannesburg’s first shipping container multi-storey building, Sixty One on Countesses. opened in Windsor East in 2012. The development consisted of 20 shipping containers and boasts 15 units.

The Mill Junction accommodation will be officially opened on Wednesday.