The United States likes stuff. As such, we have a lot of stuff shipped to us from all over the world in a really rather remarkable container. The shipping containers can contain literally any consumer good in the world but what’s real neat is the fact that you can put people in them! Okay, that came out wrong. True, they have been used to move illegal immigrants, but that’s not what I’m trying to talk about here.
Because we import a whole lot in these cans and the cost of having them shipped back is more than it costs to store them, there are literally wastelands of unused shipping cans littering work yards all over America. In the early 21st century (a decade ago, I know), America had an estimated 700,000 extra shipping cans sitting around with a few people trying to figure out what to do with them. Even though London’s very famous container city has been there for nearly five years already, in 2006, Peter DeMaria built what he claims is the first shipping container home in Rodondo Beach. True, various other people may have stacked, welded, insulated and cut shipping containers into workable abodes, but DeMaria was the first to shamelessly self promote and garner all the attention.
Since then, however, there have been a number of companies selling shipping container homes as prefabs and a number of others working with clients to build something unique. One thing is for sure, though, when it comes to container homes – they provide some of the coolest sustainable modern homes available. That and giant LEGO!
Art Studio By Maziar Behrooz Architecture
Designed by Maziar Behrooz, this art studio in New York is made of two side-by-side shipping cans atop a foundation wall. Inside, the ceilings are 18′ in the studio allowing for art projects of nearly any size. The building won a Peconic Design Award in 2009.
Container City in Cholula
No, not that Cholula. Just a couple hours outside of Mexico City is 4,500 meters of containers in a suburb called Cholula. The container city was inspired by London’s container city and has everything from coffee shops and restaurants to homes. The area tends to attract young people and the creatives of every generation. If you’re in the area, it is most certainly worth the detour.
Poteet Guest House
Built as a guesthouse rather than a full sized living abode, Poteet’s container guesthouse is a totally unique and admittedly beautiful place to let your guests stay. The model is furnished with pieces that make us a little giddy. It’ll sleep a couple in a single bed and it has a toilet too! This would have been the COOLEST room when I was a kid.
Ecotech in the Mojave
Perhaps not the easiest on the eyes, but Ecotech’s contribution has to stand up to the heat of the Mojave. Believe it or not, the steel that shipping cans are made of don’t really deal well with heat. As such, this project would have been a bit of a hard one to pull off and probably the reason it was the first of its kind in the desert. The entire unit is made with sustainability and temperature in mind but my favorite part is the 20′ tall semi outdoor solar breezeway. A beautiful home in a beautiful climate, if you’re up for it.
De Maria Design Redondo Beach House
A classic modern beach house in Redondo Beach, CA won the AIA Honor Award for Design Excellence/Special Innovation in 2007. It is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture with a radical garage door that opens up the living area to the outside. Easily one of my favorite container homes out there.
London’s Container City
This is the container city project that spawned a number of others around the world. It took 5 months in 2001 to build the 3-storeys of 4,800 square feet of studio space. Because it was such a success and the design was so modular, a fourth storey was added shortly thereafter. It is a beacon of sustainability in modern building and has upwards of 80% recycled materials.
Cove Park Artists’ Retreat
Sitting on 50 acres of some of Scotland’s most beautiful countryside is the Cove Park Artist’s Retreat. They are beautiful residences created with the purpose of getting artists out of the city to produce their art in one of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful and serene settings. If you’re an artist, have a look at what they’ve got coming up and see if you can arrange a stay.
Site Specific Experiment was asked to create a sustainable abode for the Baan Lae Suan Fair. The result was the “Eco-Living 101″ Model Home. The home boasted many green features including the use of grey water, means of growing your own food and being car smart. It was constructed of four used shipping cans and some prefab modules. The home was meant to house a family of three and ended up being around 330 square feet. Needless to say, it turned Thailand’s prefab and housing markets on their heads.
Adam Kalkin Maine Container House
Despite how terrible his site is, Adam Kalkin‘s talents do lie in design. This Maine container house might just be one of the most popular container homes on the Internet and in the world of architecture and was built using a prefab hangar and eight shipping containers. The common area in the middle really brings the whole thing together but does feel like you’re in a plane hangar. Still, the house is sectioned very nicely and has plenty of room for everybody in the family.
Bamboo Groove’s Model House
Bamboo Groove is an idea out of The Netherlands for sustainable housing in Costa Rica. The homes are built of shipping containers as well as other Intermodal Steel Building Units with the help of naturally occurring materials that make for good heat and moisture dissipating building stuffs. They are some very beautiful and minimalist functional houses for tropical climates.