Carmen Bier, clinic director at the Helios Klinikum Bad Saarow, is pragmatically inclined and highly values sustainability. That was the reason and the personal motivation why Bier converted old shipping containers into three modern apartments and had them set up on the clinic grounds. In this interview, the clinic's director tells us who the containers are for and why she put so much of her heart and soul into this project.
Mrs. Bier, a clinic that creates its own living space is exemplary, but also requires some explanation. How did you come up with the idea of building the apartments on the grounds of the Helios Clinic, and who is supposed to move in here?
Carmen Bier: We regularly need living space, especially for students of the Brandenburg Medical School and for students who complete their practical year with us but do not want to commute. Our existing guest and on-call rooms have long been insufficient for this. And so we, Prof. Dr. Stefan Koch, our scientific director, and I, came up with the idea some time ago to offer small apartments ourselves.
Especially when you're new somewhere, I think it's important that you feel comfortable
A clinic director who personally takes care of housing for students and even buys the furniture for the apartments? Where does this commitment come from?
Carmen Bier: During my studies and apprenticeship, I often had to change my place of accommodation and got to know a lot of places. Especially when you're new somewhere, I think it's important that you feel comfortable. And that's what I paid attention to here.
Why did you decide to use shipping containers? Is it even possible to live in them?
Carmen Bier: Yes, you can, and I find the idea of repurposing such overseas containers into living space very exciting. It's a creative way to keep the ecological footprint small while still living comfortably. But the project was also a challenge, because first of all we had to acquire the shipping containers, which is not that easy. We initially purchased five overseas containers.
Can you elaborate on the construction method?
Carmen Bier: The interior work cannot be compared with that of a normal house or apartment. The entire process was not without complications. But together with our local construction companies, we overcame this challenge successfully. In the end, we created modern, beautiful apartments, which we equipped with a living area with TV, a kitchen, a bathroom with shower, separate bedrooms, underfloor heating, WLAN and much more. From the outside, the containers are insulated with rock wool and clad with aluminum. Overall, we are very proud of our living containers.
But the project was also a challenge, because first of all we had to acquire the shipping containers, which is not that easy.
Are all apartments furnished equally?
Carmen Bier: We have given each apartment an individual name: They are called "Beach House", "Hunting Lodge" and "Arbor". And I have also chosen the furnishings and decorations accordingly. I enjoy designing, furnishing and decorating enormously, so I often spent weekends in furniture stores.
What do you do when the demand becomes so huge that the three apartments are no longer sufficient?
Carmen Bier: Of course, we have also thought about this. Our containers are currently in a test phase, so to speak. In the event that we need more overnight accommodation in the long term, we still have enough building space to expand the project. We now know how to do it.