In the summer of 2014 Niu Jian and his family moved from the bustling Beijing district of Haidian to the village of Niuhe in Shunyi, on the outskirts of the capital. Their new home consists of a single-storey arrangement of six 20-foot shipping containers. A 600 watt solar panel hangs on one wall and 300 watt wind turbine spins on the roof.
Niu had the containers made to order, with doors and windows, a power supply and insulation. The 150 square metre-space cost him about 300,000 yuan to have built and fitted out and he describes this as a laboratory for sustainable living. Asked why he wanted to spend so much money for a tougher life on the outskirts of Beijing, Niu explains that he wants to spread the idea of a ‘shared community’ – people who want to find a more sustainable life in the smog ridden city.