Should Ireland look to European methods of student housing?

When it comes to student accommodation, there is no greater simplicity in life than living on campus. Unfortunately, this is a luxury that is not afforded to all students.

Some are lucky enough to secure accommodation in designated student villages, such as Shanowen and Gateway in the DCU area. And then there are those left who have to search far and wide for a house to rent for the year, which speaking from my own experience, can be a real struggle.

Houses have to be found online, be within a reasonable distance to college, viewed without guarantee of securing it and of course, some landlords can be very hesitant about renting to students. And when you finally find one, God knows how much rent you will be charged, especially in Dublin – but what choice have you got?

Some European colleges have quite a simple solution to ensuring as many students as possible can live on or as close to campus as possible. What is the genius behind this solution?

The answer is shipping containers. Fully furbished shipping containers are being used to house students in multi-storey complexes across central Europe, especially in Germany and The Netherlands.

In Amsterdam for example, the biggest development of shipping container homes in the world is located, called the Wenckehof. Built as a temporary housing experiment, it proved so popular with students that it was given permanent status by the Amsterdam authorities in 2011. Its success has intrigued architects and housing organisations looking for low-cost solutions to housing shortages in cities all around the world.

DCU Student Garvan McVerry, who is studying in Germany this year and living in this type of container accommodation, had this to say about his home away from home:
”At first I thought it would be really weird living in something like this, as if I was being transported like some kind of refugee. But to be honest I don’t really notice it anymore. They’ve really put a lot of work into making students feel at home and while from the outside it looks very unusual, it’s quite a nice place to live.”

These container homes are perfectly equipped for living in, with cooking facilities and ensuite bedrooms. They are also much cheaper than paying rent for a house back in Dublin.

”In Ireland I was paying over five and half grand, which equates to something like €600 a month. Over here I’m barely paying €300 a month which is great,” Garvan said.

Containers are not massively expensive, and can be stacked up on top of each other, meaning that a huge amount of space isn’t needed to construct a complex. These accommodation projects have obviously been a huge success abroad, and really should be considered being brought into Ireland to help tackle the growing problem of students finding accommodation.

Conor Hawkins

Image credit: Shutterstock

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