Shipping containers and silos house students at Mill Junction


February 13, 2014

The Mill Junction student accommodation is based in Newtown, Johannesburg  (Photo: Citiq)

The Mill Junction student accommodation is based in Newtown, Johannesburg (Photo: Citiq)

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South African property developer Citiq has recently completed the renovation of unused grain silos in Newtown, Johannesburg, into low-cost – and rather unique-looking – student accommodation, which also features multi-colored shipping containers to the top and side.

The Mill Junction project comprises 10 stories based in disused silos, which have had windows cut into the facade, and an additional four floors of shipping containers stacked atop the silos to increase available space. Even more of the metal boxes are affixed to the side of the building, too. In all, there's 375 apartments, plus common areas such as study rooms, communal kitchens, a library, and gym. The rooftop has been astro-turfed and is said to offer excellent views of the city.

Some thought went into making Mill Junction as sustainable as possible, and heat pumps for hot water production, motion-sensor-activated energy-efficient lighting, and double-glazed windows were all installed. Citiq reckons that these steps have cut power consumption by up to 50 percent when compared to a typical building, though no figures have been made available to back these claims up.

Providing the usual pitfalls typical to shipping container-based architecture have been handled (solar heat gain and inadequate insulation, for example), in this author's opinion, the Mill Junction development makes a nice addition to the city's skyline. Not everyone's a fan though, and Citiq acknowledges that the build has drawn its fair share of both praise and criticism from locals.

Source: Citiq via Design Boom

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

I like the trampoline up top thats a nice selling feature!


PJ O'Roarke once observed that "You can't stack drunk people". Hi-Rise buildings for student populations will always have a few safety problems......

Dennis Baer

Nice concept but the colors are ghastly. If the exterior had a decent paint job there'd be less criticism.

Gregg Eshelman

Personally, if the silos are painted brown and the containers are painted with tree leaves patterns, the whole thing would look like a giant tree and would look less industrial and more artistic.

Clinton Wong

In the hot African sun I would think that the containers would heat up far too much, and I must admit I am not happy with the look, it just not look like a nice area to live, but it is for students!!!!!!!


@JSSFB - 'hot African sun' - Africa is a pretty big continent and South Africa is furtherest south giving it some really nice weather - the sun is not the same everywhere. I lived 20 years in Johannesburg, and have been in Perth Australia for 10 years, and I would easily say that the sun in Perth is far more intense. It gets pretty hot in summer in Joburg but it's not like Saraha desert style heat stroke. Regardless it probably doesn't take much sun to make a container uncomfortable so hopefully insulation and cooling solutions are in place.

Mia H
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