Displaced people due to the natural disasters that hit japan in Onagawa in the Miyagi prefecture are getting to see a solution using shipping containers is not only rapid but practical and functional.Shigeru Ban Architects came up with the idea and it uses a 3 level stack of 6 containers with the initial construction offering 188 temporary homes to homeless japanese.
For me it also shows how practical using old shipping containers can offer a solution to other countries with housing issues as the conversion costs are reasonable and the availability of containers in many places are abundant.
One of the most common defence mechanisms people come up with when you mention shipping container homes to them but what if I could show you something with an even smaller floor area?
This Pod styled building has height to its advantage but obviously not a lot of width. Doesn’t mean its not practical and in fact with house prices so expensive in most cities how easy is it to find such a piece of land that others overlook completely?
Inside its not exactly expansive of space but it is using the best of its available room and making it functional as well as practical. Lower level offers the bathroom,kitchen and dining facilities as well as a seating area while the second level gives you a desk and bedroom area. The top small space is designed for storage. This isn’t a concept by the way its being constructed by Polish architects Centrala. It has been designed as a studio apartment for Israeli writer Etgar Keret as well as open to other artists and writers.
This unique home is sitting on the steep slope of Crestwood Hills in Los Angeles. 3,700sq ft. the Jovanovich dream home was developed on existing buildings adding to it sustainable and progressive design and construction methods.
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects were the guys behind the project, adding a second skin layer to the buildings added an assisted shade that protects the building from Californian sunshine and also works to reduce heat build up in the home as well as offering a privacy screen.
An idea that can also be utilized for shipping container homes to help keep the heat out. Either directly or in a canopy form. Not a shipping container home in design but its the grill concept that I found interesting.
This three bedroom container home has utilized its lot area to give a unique home environment which also adds colour to the area from its wooden cladding. On top of that its a green home in many ways that have been listed below. On waste removal from site they were able to contain all the rubbish within 10 contractor waste sacks in comparison to many other projects I have personally worked on that would literally need several skips on this size of building. Mainly not down to the construction company mind as the biggest problem I find in construction is the amount of pallets, packaging, wraps, boxes etc. that everything seems to come in.
Some of the green features:
- FilterPave driveway using 70-80 percent post-consumer recycled glass, 20-30 percent granite, and a polymer binder in a four inch layer.
- Built with three used shipping containers
- SIPs incorporated in roof and floors
- On-demand hot water heater
- Efficient Unico AC system
- An energy recovery ventilation system
- Bamboo flooring and low-VOC paints
- Use of fiberboard products
- Energy efficient appliances
- Dual-flush toilets and efficient plumbing/fixtures
One of the big advantages people forget when looking at off grid shipping container homes is that they are ideal for weekend retreats. In our day and age where we are driven by workload and technology the great outdoors is something often observed through a window be it a car or a home. Yet we are surrounded by nature, heading up to a shipping container home that is nestled away from the day to day burdens of life open up a space that is switched off to most technology and somewhere that builds a family space. An environment for children to get in touch with nature while the parents are able to not only function as a family but also a couple.
A shipping container off grid home may be a savior of many marriages in the world of hectic lifestyles that most people seem to have these days. I remember the “run to the sun” in the UK as the weekend hit there was only one thought not overtime for the weekend but getting on route to the south coast for the weekend. Back then there was no thought of a retreat but simply crashing out in the car or using a tent depending on the weather. The main thing though is that those things got forgotten as the years went on and part of the reason the relationship I was in then dissolved as city working took over and my now ex’s interest went into owning horses and suddenly we were more like ships passing in the night than anything else.
Bit of a warning to others as well as myself that getting away for the weekend is not only healthy and enjoyable but a part of life we need to reinstate and get our work lives in balance.
The thing about this concept is its something we are looking to do in the near future depending how the rest of our projects go. The roofing for example could have another use due to its span and that’s to add rainwater harvesting either for irrigation or things like toilets. The complete project came in at $200,000 and could have been halved if it wasn’t for the issues of location which left no man power in the area and access difficulties for transportation/machinery.
The concept has been simple which has raised the containers from the ground to reduce risks of bugs, snakes and rainwater but also to keep them individual units as this allows for moving to another site without too much damage to the environment. The inside of the units have been fitted out but at the same time the exteriors have been left pretty much intact.
All units are joined together by a simple decking area which I could see the opportunity of something like this in the Philippines as a simple retreat or cheap accommodation rentals with a bit of privacy.
All in all the whole idea makes a lot of sense to me with the maximising of space which also throws up the question how much stuff do we really need when most Western homes are at least 4 x the size of a container. Not only would downsizing save on the obvious of electricity, gas etc it also helps to reduce consumerism.
The design above is a good example of integrating a balcony area as often it gets overlooked yet could be a view over the ocean, BBQ and dining area, or simply an external sitting and entertaining area. The other thing I like about this size of unit as well though is it can maximize the 2 x 20ft containers by joining them together in an L shape then using the balcony to complete the unit as a square. Giving a modern looking home which doesn’t look too obvious of its shipping container roots with the over cladding.
Channel 9 Australia has recently aired Top Design – a new reality TV show / competition that features interior designers, architects, renovators and the like in a bid to find the Top Design. Episode One featured a shipping container conversion.