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To most people in the region, shipping containers are mammoth steel boxes that transport cargo across land, air and sea – and rather imposing on roads. But not to Arjun Menon, Managing Director of Smart Box, Dubai. To him they are SMART boxes – Steel, Modular, Architecturally engineered, Recyclable and Transportable boxes – Lego blocks that he plays with, to create some of the greenest habitats in the region.

Arjun is truly a green advocate, a fact that is evident from the environment-friendly practices he follows in his office. Perhaps, this commitment towards the cause is the reason he studied container conversion at such length, and opted for SMART construction. “Very often, we see up to a third of used containers lying in ports at any given time. This is usually the result of trade imbalance, when it becomes unviable for shipping lines to transport empty containers back to their places of origin,” he explains. “A container is usually declared non-seaworthy when the cost of repairing it exceeds that of manufacturing a new one. A container that is not seaworthy still retains its inherent qualities of strength and durability, and can be given a new lease of life. To me, upcycling used containers is an environmentally responsible alternative to abandoning them in piles on vacant lots. These otherwise redundant resources – well past their initial intended use in the transportation industry – are capable of providing adequate, affordable square footage for housing, commercial and other purposes,” he says. “Selecting containers that are conversion worthy, however, is important. At Smart Box, we ensure that the containers we choose for conversion are free of contaminants, chemicals and spillage,” Arjun clarifies.