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Could architecture change the world? That is the issue examined in the March 2012 edition of Architectural record, and a mighty fine one it is too. The buildings that surround us, that we work in, eat in, learn in and live in all shape our lives in a myriad of different ways. In Britain we live in a place where these things are all well designed, and we have access to pretty much everything we need without a second’s thought – schools are nearby, as are libraries (at least, unless the government has shut yours down too) and everything else. But what about the places where this isn’t the case? Can clever architectural ideas make a difference by making it possible for people to access what they are missing out on. We certainly think that it is possible. One solution to housing really caught our eye. In Japan, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, there was an incredible need for housing. One ingenious solution to this problem was the creation of multi-story dwellings using shipping containers as the basic building block. These were not only incredibly quick to put up – 189 residential units finished in only three months – but look like elegant, simple and stylish homes. Good job, architecture. NB