A shipping container-like structure parked on the south side of the Vancouver Art Gallery could hold the answer to the city's homeless and housing crisis, according to Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Vancouver temporary modular housing

A model of a unit in Vancouver's first temporary modular housing project is on display all week at Robson Square. (Tristian Le Rudulier/CBC)

The unit contains a display model of a single suite in Vancouver's first ever temporary modular housing complex, set to open in early 2017 at 1500 Main Street. 

"We want people in Vancouver to experience what it's like on the inside and understand the quality and the efficiency and appropriateness of having modular housing to address the particular challenge we have," said Robertson.

Vancouver modular housing project

The modular housing project is scheduled to open in early 2017 at 1500 Main Street. (Tristian Le Rudulier/CBC)

The display suite is 250 square feet in size with a private bathroom and kitchen. There's also a small bedroom/sitting area and a closet.  

The Main Street complex will consist of 40 similar units. The complex will be available to homeless people and those on low or fixed incomes. 

Vancouver modular suite

The modular suites and temporary building were designed by Calgary company Horizon North. (Tristian Le Rudulier/CBC)

Muktar Latif, the City of Vancouver's Chief Housing Officer, said more temporary modular complexes could be built on vacant lots waiting to be developed. 

"Temporary modular housing allows us to leverage city owned land and creates innovative partnerships to provide a greater diversity of homes with greater affordability," he said. 

Calgary firm Horizon North, which specializes in modular camp and oil field accommodation, is building the complex. 

The display unit will be open to the public at 800 Robson Street for the week.