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TransTech shipping container to be transformed into mobile classroom by AUS students

Written by:
Samar Mahmoud

Sharjah, UAE. May 17, 2023 – Sharjah-based manufacturing company TransTech has donated a 40-foot shipping container to the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) as part of a design-build initiative that will see the container transformed into a mobile classroom with the potential to benefit remote communities within the next two to three years.

The project was initiated by Associate Professor of Architecture Patrick Rhodes, who connected with AUS alumnus and TransTech Chief Marketing Officer Kashif Bhaor about the possibility of providing senior architecture students with a shipping container to work on as a legacy project at CAAD. TransTech is a market leader in creating innovative fabrication solutions with the use of eco-friendly materials and processes during the manufacturing of their products. All products are manufactured locally including privacy booths, kiosks, modified containers, and businesses on wheels.

Mr. Bhaor affirmed this as an opportunity to make a positive impact on the educational experience of architecture students while also contributing to the UAE's sustainability efforts. 

“Shipping containers are becoming a trend in sustainable architecture due to their eco-friendliness and versatility, and by repurposing one as a design studio and later a classroom, we hope to demonstrate how innovative thinking can contribute to a more sustainable future,” said Bhaor.

“I believe that this project has the potential to inspire the next generation of architects and designers to prioritize sustainability in their work, which is essential for achieving the UAE's goals for COP28 and beyond. These students are the future of the industry, and by providing them with a cutting-edge learning environment, we can help shape that future in a positive way. Contributing to the development of the university and the success of its students is an incredibly fulfilling endeavor, and TransTech is proud to be a part of it,” he said.

The design-build initiative at CAAD has garnered global recognition, in particular the NeoNomads design-build project in 2018, which received awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the American Institute of Architects, and was featured at the Global Grad Show. Considering AUS’ role in the Universities Climate Network at COP28, this is a timely opportunity for students to engage in conversations that consider the impact design can have in society and the environment.

Since receiving the container on campus, a group of 14 senior architecture students have developed an initial concept design of its transformation into a mobile classroom constructed with recycled materials, and have worked together in the CAAD Labs to manufacture windows, doors and ramps to seal the structure over the summer break.

CAAD student Dinisha Dinesh said the project has been named Jawla which translates to “journey” in Arabic. 

“The container has been used to actively transport goods around the world since 2015, therefore the concept of dynamism that Jawla brings flows across the entire project—from minuscule details of a hinge to a large opening in the container. Containers are seen as static and lifeless objects. However, ironically, this condition is juxtaposed by the very environment that it’s made for—shipping and moving. Thus, every part of this project is carrying the essence of its dynamic environments,” said Dinesh.

Dinesh said the legacy aspect of this project is particularly poignant.

“All of the students working on this project will graduate this semester, so the project will be handed over to a new cohort of architecture majors who will work to realize the vision of the project over the next few years,” she said.

The following students have been involved in this project: Amal Saleh, Anika Koshy, Dinisha Dinesh, Dua Syed, Fatima Al Attar, Hajer Ali, Izzdeen Abu Yousuf, Leen Al Nimer, Majdoline Bakr, Omar Dakkak, Racha Amari, Reyam Al-Mehemdi, Sanoj Sam and Tala Al Shukairy.

To learn more about the “culture of making” at CAAD, its programs and facilities, visit www.aus.edu/caad.

For more about TransTech and its scope of products and services, visit www.transtech.ae.

About AUS 

American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah. Sheikh Sultan articulated his vision of a distinctive institution against the backdrop of Islamic history and in the context of the aspirations and needs of contemporary society in the UAE and the Gulf region.

Firmly grounded in principles of meritocracy and with a strong reputation for academic excellence, AUS has come to represent the very best in teaching and research, accredited internationally and recognized by employers the world over for creating graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills and drive to lead in the 21st century.

AUS values learners not driven only by academic success, but by those that embrace our dynamic campus life and embody our ideals of openness, tolerance and respect. This combination of academic excellence and community spirit ensures AUS is filled with world-class faculty and students, poised to become the innovators, thinkers, contributors and leaders of tomorrow.

About AUS’ Silver Jubilee

Celebrating 25 years of excellence, AUS is ranked among the top 10 universities in the Arab world, acclaimed for its academic excellence, multicultural environment and outstanding facilities.

Since 1997, AUS has been nurturing and equipping students to become award-winning architects, designers, scientists, journalists, engineers, innovators, researchers, successful entrepreneurs–and even leaders of the UAE’s space program.

AUS offers 28 undergraduate majors and 45 minors, 15 master’s degrees and four PhD programs in the areas of architecture, design, humanities, science, engineering and business. Formed on the American liberal arts model, all classes are conducted in English.

Students apply their learning through internships, research, conferences, competitions and professional collaborations. AUS graduates consistently secure roles with leading regional and international employers, and many pursue graduate studies at the world’s top institutions.

By Liliana Alvarez

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