Undergraduates not all at sea with sustainable designs

Resourceful undergraduates at Somerset College produced designs for former shipping containers that will be converted into sustainable homes as part of a competition with local firm Radical Homes.

Radical Homes are exploring the possibility of converting steel shipping containers into low cost sustainable homes. To win the competition, the Interior Textiles and Surface Design undergraduates had to come up with plans to soften the containers and make them more homely. The designs also had to add value to the project.

Sue Edwards, who is in her second year of a BA (Hons) Interior Textiles and Surface Design course, won the competition. She was presented with her certificate by Simon Masters of Radical Homes.

She said: ‘I am so thrilled to have won this competition. My design featured re-used supermarket plastic bags combined with fabric and embellished with glass to create a beautiful panel visible in the windows of the container.

‘We had carte blanche over what we could do to the containers, and were able to push the creative boundaries to produce our designs.'

Students took their inspiration from Cothay Manor, near Wellington. They had to source their own sustainable materials that had properties that suited the steel box.

Steel is expensive to produce and dispose of after its life. Radical Homes came up with the idea of re-using the containers as low cost sustainable housing.

Simon Masters of Radical Homes said; ‘All of the submissions were mind stretching. Overall I was impressed by the creativity and imagination displayed by the group.

‘There would be many challenges to creating a container home, they would need to change from metal boxes to spaces people would feel comfortable living in. The breadth and scope of the undergraduate's ideas was outstanding.'

Neil Musson, Interior Textiles and Surface Design tutor at Somerset College, said: ‘As a department, we are stressing the importance of environmental awareness and this project is a good example of how our student's innovative ideas and designs can assist local industry in meeting sustainable objectives.'

Somerset College has a strong award winning tradition in sustainability with initiatives such as the Genesis Centre, excellent recycling and green transport schemes and sustainable courses available. Every course at the College includes a sustainability module embedded in the curriculum. This gives the students a better understanding of sustainability in their industry before they enter employment.

For more information on the BA (Hons) Interior Textiles and Surface Design Course click here, alternatively contact (01823) 366 331.

Somerset College delivers 25 degree programmes through a partnership with the University of Plymouth.