Sheffield firm transforms shipping containers to ease homelessness in Ealing


Sheffield-based Panel Systems has worked with developer QED Sustainable Urban Developments and offsite manufacturer CargoTek to combat homelessness in Ealing by creating homes built from former shipping containers.

The development of 60 units at Meath Court, Hope Gardens, provides safe, comfortable accommodation for nearly 290 people. The joint project between QED and the local council is the latest step to address the need for emergency housing in the capital.

Ealing Council has 2,242 households living in temporary accommodation and a steady decline in the availability of suitable options. Hope Gardens was previously an underused brownfield site which has been identified for long-term redevelopment post 2024. QED has invested £4.3m in the construction of Meath Court, whilst Ealing Council covers the rent costs.

The units were built offsite by CargoTek, the specialist subcontractor of shipping container buildings, to meet a strict deadline. As well as the temporary homes, Meath Court also includes a communal space, onsite management office, laundry and refuse storage. All aspects of the development were constructed in 24 weeks.

Specified by QED, Panel Systems supplied 144 Aluglaze panels with externally projecting trays. The manufacturer fabricated the panels with a high performance insulation core to achieve a 0.35 W/m2K U Value.

The Aluglaze panels were supplied in five main colours, each of which was specified in various shades including three tones of green, blue and red and two tones of orange and yellow. Each block features one colour in the varying shades, achieving a dark to light rainbow effect.

Ross Gilbert, MD of QED Sustainable Urban Developments said: “We originally looked at using opaque coloured glass to achieve the rainbow effect, however these would not provide the U Values required to ensure the homes were energy efficient. The extensive range of Aluglaze colours and finishes, along with Panel System’s fabricating capabilities, meant we were not only given a better choice of shades and a more premium finish, but the panels also provide better insulation and energy efficiency.”

He adds: “Panel Systems ticked all of the boxes for us. The company went out of their way to ensure that the panels reached us within a tight timeframe. The company’s excellent machining facilities also meant each panel was delivered cut to shape, rebated and ready to install.”