Seah Liang Chiang worked in the IT industry for ten years. But Seah changed her mind after viewing the Netflix series “Tiny House Nation.” He decided to pursue a career in the hospitality industry, focusing on the construction of microhotels using shipping containers.
In 2020, the first hotel in the Singapore Container Hotel network was established by Seah and his wife Lorraine in an industrial area of the city. They then opened a different hotel in Singapore’s well-known park with a hell motif. One shipping container is used for the residential area in each hotel.
Seah, though, had grander dreams, and one of them was to construct a five-star hotel from four two-story shipping containers.
According to Seah, who spoke with Insider, “I wanted to shatter the perception that recycling shipping containers is a cheap experience.”
This month, Seah opened his third hotel, the Garden Pod, amid the 101-hectare Gardens by the Bay park, which has a view of the famous Marina Bay Sands. The construction of the hotel took around two years.
The first thing Seah did was to buy the shipping containers that make up the hotel’s primary living area. According to Seah, he purchased 10 containers from a yard in western Singapore.
The local architectural company Laud created the hotel. Early in 2020, Seah and a group of architects and engineers started building the hotel. He calculates that he spent around $700,000, or 1 million Singapore dollars, building the facility.
The containers, which are 7.8 feet in length and measure 2.4 metres, according to Seah, cost around SG$8,000 apiece.
Making ensuring the containers were strong enough to be converted into homes was the first stage. The containers were opened at the yard and strengthened with steel beams.
The crew then put aluminium frames inside the container pieces that had been cut apart. These frames were equipped with heat-soaked glass that could resist the force of the container being raised into the air.
In Gardens by the Bay, the hotel’s building was constructed on the spot. The ground was levelled and strengthened with steel bars and reinforced slabs to support the weight of the shipping containers.
Since it opened in 2012, the park in the heart of Singapore has seen about 50 million visitors. The biggest glass greenhouse in the whole world is located there.
Seah must pay Gardens by the Bay rent in order to run the hotel in the park. Seah refused to disclose the park’s leasing rates.
The “total value supplied to guests,” according to a Gardens by the Bay official, is what “determines the commercial agreements,” along with variables like market rental prices. Regarding how much the park’s rentals cost, the spokesman made no remarks.
The spokesman said, “The Garden Pod is a pop-up hotel idea that Gardens by the Bay created with the Shipping Container Hotel. We are always open to creative suggestions from business partners to provide our guests fresh and fascinating experiences.
The hotel in Gardens by the Bay is a temporary building. Seah designed the hotel in a modular way so that it may be put up again somewhere else.
It couldn’t be cast in concrete, Seah said, “I had to be able to remove the steel beams.”
Each apartment has a spiral staircase, which Seah compared to a sculpture and is one of its most distinctive elements. There are a total of four stairs in the hotel, each of which was built after the first floor.
According to the standards of the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the hotel was equipped with fire-rated walls and ceilings, Seah added.
According to Seah, the hotel’s electrical wiring had to be hidden behind the walls to minimise fire dangers. In order to reduce the temperature within the container, particularly given Singapore’s humid climate, rockwool was also put into the walls.
Due to the government’s stringent safety regulations, Seah said, constructing a small home in Singapore is “challenging” since even temporary constructions must adhere to the same requirements as permanent ones.
Seah engaged professionals from the nearby PV Foundry firm to install solar panels.
Only thin, flexible panels, according to Seah, were installed atop the property.
They aren’t the typical thick ones, Seah said, adding that the hotel receives the majority of its electricity from solar power.
Each loft’s interior is styled with a contemporary flair. Floor to ceiling windows and marble countertops provide the appearance of a roomy living space.
Each loft offers a wide outside patio, a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, a living area, and a dining area. It is 70 square metres in size.
Four people need a night’s stay that costs SG$600, which is not inexpensive.
The loft isn’t “the normal little container,” according to Thiang Yong Chan, a visitor who stayed at the hotel in September, and it holds its own against more reputable establishments.
Thiang described it as “a good destination for a quick escape” in a Google review. The lack of privacy at the hotel, she said, is one of its drawbacks due to the large glass windows.
The hotel is situated in the heart of the grounds, so the outside patio is surrounded by vegetation.
The Jasmine duplex, for instance, gives a view of the city skyline. All the patios face various directions of the hotel, so the views vary. The motel also has an electric grill available.
A basic style with wooden walls and big windows characterises the bedroom. It has a double bed and a couch bed that may be converted.
Since the bedroom was created to provide a broad view of the grounds, Liang suggested visitors who prefer privacy to draw the curtains.
Additionally, there is an ensuite bathroom on the top level with a large shower and toilet.
The shipping container hotel complex was difficult to build, but according to Seah, it was worthwhile since it’s the “closest thing we have to living off the grid.”
In Singapore, according to Seah, building a tiny home structure is costly and time-consuming, the exact reverse of what most people want in small, movable living.
Many visitors to the hotel are interested by the closest thing we have to off-grid life, according to Seah. “I construct these lodgings so visitors may experience urban small home life.”