In the search for sustainable habitat, one of the more innovative directions taken by green building proponents has been in the use of shipping containers as homes. Instead of surplus containers being consigned to expensive recycling or landfills, they are now being transformed into stylish homes integrating principles of utility and durability. An efficient response to rising cost and enlarging carbon footprint of conventional brick wall housing, these container homes are not only practical, but with greater adoption by designers, they are surprisingly aesthetic as well.
Here are some groundbreaking and eye-catching concepts in shipping container homes:
1. Ross Stevensâ Cliffside Container Home
Ross Stevens is a Design teacher from New Zealand who executed the Cliffside Container Home by stacking three shipping containers on top of each other against the hillside. With a minimalist facade that blends well with the environment and uncluttered lines, this design uses materials from the containers in interesting ways to enhance the container home experience, such as a container door as a table top, and clip on balconies from welded container walls.
2. De Mariaâs Redondo Beach House
Positioned as a luxury beach house, this prefabricated design tests the premise that container homes have to be dull and drab. With an almost opulent use of floor to ceiling glass windows and siding, the Redondo Beach House pre-launch promotion declares it to be fire proof, termite proof, and mold proof.
3. Atelier workshopâs Port-a-Bach
The name of this shipping container home design from New Zealand plays on the Kiwi word, bach, which means a small holiday home. This 20-feet container home accommodates two adults and two children and is portable to the point that it can be folded up into its own steel shell. It uses a fabric partitioning device that lets you create customized rooms within the large living space. It contains everything that a studio apartment can, with abundant storage, a stainless steel kitchen, toilet and shower, a double bedroom for the adults and bunk beds for the kids, as well as a dressing room.
4. Exposure Architects’ Greentainer Project
The Greentainer Project in Gandino, Italy strives to dissolve the boundary between interior and exterior by using a completely glassed in module. The Greentainer does not attempt to position itself as a container home, but as the container that it originally was, but modified into a vessel with a purpose. It can be used as a small company cafeteria, a meeting room, or an exhibition room for traveling exhibits. It is a single container with a photovoltaic system for air conditioning requirements. The glass walls allow it to illuminate itself with available light, natural or artificial.
5. Envision Prefabâs E-House
The E-House is one of those container home designs that has decided it does not want to look like a container home. It integrates the residential housing look with prefab functionality while adhering to global green building standards. Initially started as a project to educate home owners about sustainability, the E-House runs off solar panels, uses greywater recycling, and has an organic composting machine among other green features.
6. The 15-container home
Like the Redondo Beach house, this home, designed for themselves by two architects, demolishes the traditional concept of container homes as small, dark, and dull. Built by stacking 15 containers adjacent to a small elevation in the land, this two storied building looks more like a glass and concrete design than a corrugated container home. Using natural light abundantly, and incorporating green housing principles, this is testimony that innovative design can turn container homes into visual delight.
7. The Freitag Shop in Zurich
The Freitag Shop is an interesting urban design experiment in Zurich. It is not only reported to be the worldâs tallest building made from containers but also has the strange distinction of being Zurich’s tallest building. This 85 feet high structure was built by the Freitag Messenger Bag Company by assembling 17 recycled shipping containers into a store, replete with display area, common areas, stairways, and storage areas. The logic behind this structure was to convey the fact that the Freitag bags, like the building itself, were made from recycled material.
8. Richard Barnwall’s LiNX Temporary Structures
The LiNX is a no frills offering from Richard Barnwall of Dublin that seeks to provide temporary shelter applications specifically targeted at workforce such as construction workers. Though it strictly does not fall into the category of a home, the four-container modules are two-storied and come with a simple utilitarian set of bathroom, showers, office and a lunch room.
9. Adam Kalkin’s Quik House
Adam Kalkin has always looked at how design and social purpose interface. His 2000 square feet container home concept uses up to five containers, with an interesting variation of interiors. While some containers are a room by themselves, others have intricate structures built into them. Kalkin’s design effort does not end at functionality or aesthetics. He is now involved in running the Quik Build Disaster Relief Swat Team that takes his design and uses it for emergency and temporary housing needs.
10. Illy’s Push Button House
Adam Kalkin has also worked on Illy’s amazing container home concept known as the Push Button House. So named because at the push of a button, the house unfolds and expands from a boxy container to a design delight in a mere 90 seconds. With a complex computer controlled hydraulic system, and made entirely of either recycled or recyclable material, the Push Button House is a technological and innovative wonder to behold.
11. Christopher Robertson’s Single Storied Container Home
This home is located in the outskirts of downtown Houston, and is proof that container homes can blend into residential areas smoothly. It is made from four shipping containers sourced from nearby ports, three of them 40 feet, and one standard 20 feet. Putting two of the larger containers together and doing away with much of the inner walls, the developers, Katie Nichols and John Walker, were able to get a spacious and well lit and ventilated interior. Placing the 20 feet container at a slight elevation, they turned it into a galley kitchen. The third 40-feet container serves as a guest cottage. A true breakthrough in container home design.
12. LOT-EKs Consumer Home Kit
This is modular container home at its best. With prefabricated and built in plumbing and electricals, these units are not only affordable and easy to install, but also expandable by adding one module to another. It comes with built in closet and wooden floors, and has large 8X8 windows.
13. SEED’s Emergency Housing
Architecture and Design researchers from Clemson University have used the metaphor of the seed to name their emergency housing initiative. Using partially embedded and moored shipping containers which can withstand natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, they have started a disaster relief project offering emergency housing in Haiti.
14. Debbie Glassbergâs Home Contained
This is a 2,600 square-foot home in Kansas City designed by Debbie Glassberg. Made of five 40-feet containers, and sprinkled with design tid-bits and bright colors and textures, it also conforms to global green building standards with geothermal heating, bamboo floors, etc.
15. The Ecopod
This is a portable home built from an 8X20 container. It is off the grid with an 80-watt solar panel. With a minimalist and utilitarian approach, this affordable design has a recycled car tire flooring and soy-based wall insulation. It further reduces the need for artificial lighting by using wide windows.