Disguise shipping container home with vertical garden

Green Wall - Vertical garden

The discussion of cosmetic appearance as well as cooling and insulation properties often come up when talking about shipping container homes but half of the issue is people don’t think out of the box or that nature can often have the solution right in front of us. This development in the photo is actually inside an office complex providing natural beauty, a changing scenery as well as cleaner air all from a vertical garden which is artistic in design. The reason I picked this one out of the projects that Gsky have already completed is that its shape i similar to a shipping container,its indoors and if they can do this indoors why can’t we outdoors? May also help get round planning permission issues as it would be a living piece of art. Gsky do sell the products as well although not sure if they do international shipping. One thing is for sure though is this can be replicated with a bit of thought.

What halted the shipping container projects?

As you know I am keen to get shipping container housing off the ground in the Philippines and there is only one word I can describe as causing a problem “greed”. Many of the containers here have actually got dates on them from the 1970s yet locally they are still asking the price nearer that of one just manufactured. If you take into account I had already agreed prices locally to then find that they realised what we were doing here they suddenly jumped in price by 60% without any reason except to extort extra money. Its hindered the development at the same time it has also thrown up opportunity as constructing modular sections instead of a full container will work out cheaper but also means the side walls can be adapted to exactly what is needed rather than having to work round the container walls.


What am I talking about? well if you take a traditional container the wall steel isn’t the most pleasing to the eye as well as heavy. The main doors aren’t needed in many containers yet they are the most expensive section. So if you imagine drawing a rectangle with a pencil and the lines are the exterior frame that is the module I am looking to start with. Instead of cutting and patching it will be brand new units specifically built for the task of modular homes. The way I see it is that people are wanting P140,000 for a 40ft container that was originally used in the mid 80s needing some repairs as well as cutting, insulating and developing into a home. A blank canvas module makes it a lot easier as the walling for example can be slotted in pre constructed with steel exterior, foam insulation and an interior wall in each section dropping them in one by one. Its all new and also more mobile due the weight reduction in parts needed. Won’t be stackable to the same heights as original containers due to the design. Only two modules high but for most tasks and the beach huts this is perfect. In fact a two layer beach hut with the bedroom on the top floor would make a nice addition.

Shipping container homes don’t have to be a metal box

You will often come across negativity on building shipping container homes as people generally see a big metal box with a logo written up the side of it but at the same time these same people will never understand the concept of why you are doing it in the first place.

At the same though nobody says it has to be a simple box design although for many they choose this type because of environmental reasons or budget. Personally if even a box on the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t grow plants on a trellis to give a bit of shade as well as a practical wall cover. For me its not just about looking at a box but more the thought of children getting a Christmas present disregarding the present for the large box it came in to fill 101 dreams all day with the box the gift came in. Shipping containers offer that for the person who isn’t the architect or house builder a box to build from, a modular piece of a puzzle that they can envisage their ideas and turn from a simple or complex idea into a home that has their personal stamp on it. I’m an environmentalist, i’m a designer, I simply love living in my shipping container! whatever it is the point is that metal box became a home for generations and I haven’t heard anyone yet complain about living in one everyone seems more than happy and if that’s the case then I too will be happy to be “living in a box”.

Natural cooling for shipping container housing

plastic pipe plant tubes

As i was checking my plants recently that we are growing inside drainage pipe I came across an idea that would make a lot of sense for the side of shipping container homes. One of the reasons people get put off with the idea as a home is down to the steel external walls yet if you set up plastic pipe with plants that will hang down or even extend out around 1ft onto a trellis before growing down the trellis you could end up with a natural cooling affect that also may reduce the needs/costs of insulation. Currently I haven’t tried it as the tomato plants we are currently growing are still going up and haven’t started to hang downwards. Their location offers them up to a 6ft drop if they will grow that much as well as in full sunlight which tells me that other plants could be used for the purpose of natural cooling on a shipping container as well as using the trellis space for a cool sitting area as air should flow along inside between the trellis and container wall.

just a thought..

Modern summer house for ideas to use shipping containers – by Roger Hirsch

One of the important messages I try to get over on a regular basis is that shipping container houses don’t simply have to be a dull blank wall of metal in this design you can see a lot has been done with the concept as well as the use of colour and glass to make it a spectacular home.


Modern Summer house - Roger Hirsch 

The added deck area and pool give it a homely look that is not only inviting but the mix of soft colours make it pleasant to the eye.

Sunlit glazed sitting area with high ceiling

The sitting area also offers up some interesting mixes of colour as well as light beaming from the opposite side of the house giving free lighting and warmth to the room. Airy and although looking small in width the height gives a false sense of space allowing for a small room to look huge.

image The use of floor tiles allows light reflection from the large north facing glazed window/doors allowing more light into the house simplicity and open spaces have been the key in making this work.

Beautiful summerhouse lounge

Although the upper window on the left looks an interesting concept its not practical but the light beaming down from the roof in the centre is allowing light right across the open staircase to the windows on the opposite wall giving free light and warmth to the room.

use of light and space in a sitting area

The gap expansion between wall and support beam allows light to radiate through the house and even though its a small space the fact that it exists also gives space for heat build up from the light spanning through the glass giving free heat in those winter days.

The whole concept on this modern summer house is maximising the light and colour manipulation. In the evenings the internal lighting of the house illuminates the home promoting the internal structures. Along the pool lights softly glow in the evening as with the deck giving an ideal area for entertaining.

The home is approx 1,600 sq ft and resides on a 60ft by 160ft lot in Fire Island Pines, New York (off south shore long island).

I would advise taking a look at Fire Island via Google as it throws up some interesting ways of life. There are no roads its all wooden boardwalks and the majority of this house was transported on golf cart sized vehicles. The majority of people move things around with pull-carts along the 30 mile sand bank stretch which is only 1 mile wide.

Chalet styled shipping container shop/store.

An interesting use of shipping containers that blends in with the look and feel of the environment by being exterior cladded. Only when you look on the inside on the second photo do you notice the seam of the 2 containers joined together as the cladding and pitched roof hide it very well. This was commissioned by Chelsea space management for the farmers market. Installation time took only one day to completion and blends in well the existing chalet styled shops and restaurants in the area.

chalet styled shipping container shop/store - Chelsea, England

chalet styled shipping container shop/store - Chelsea, England


Extending a shipping container home using an interior

This is an idea that could get round some of the size issues of a shipping container as it allows another unit to slide out from inside the container. Advantages being if done on rails for example you could literally push half your room inside the other and lock it up for safety or moving. The concept could work well for not only for things like mobile research labs but also in the field for emergency projects as it would allow doubling of floor space without too much effort. The article was originally posted in 2004 but thought it of use as I myself have only looked at the door area for balcony extension and not this type of slotting module which is a great idea.

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STEEL SPACE – Shipping container marketing and promotional venue

imageInitially doesn’t look like much but the fact the container is designed to be moved as well as multifunctional makes this beast ideal for the exhibition market as you can lock everything up securely, pre-wire etc so as soon as it gets to site it jumps up like a jack in the box ready to go. An example of it being utilized is shown below :-


Sends the right message and quick to get the doors open without too many headaches these could be the future of small exhibit stands.

Prefabricated or shipping container conversion home?

green prefabricated home

Prefabrication is one way to go in the modular housing industry but primarily it has another function for myself as I look at what has been done to get ideas on how to convert shipping containers and this prefabricated home is being constructed by Clayton Homes, based in Maryville, Tenn., is one of America’s largest manufacturers of mobile homes and prefabricated housing. They are looking at green architecture as it is a market that is opening up especially with rising costs of living many people are looking at smaller homes to either downsize or for their first homes. Although this home isn’t cheap at an estimated sale price of around $100,000 its design and concept is based round a more up market home buyer compared to the usual mobile home buyer. Giving something in between luxury home and mobile housing.

Its design offers a home that can be run on $1 per day due to energy efficent appliances as well as superior insulation and E rated windows this will no doubt be an expanding market in the forthcoming years due to rising costs of energy and large homes finding their prices collapse in the current market. The I-House is no doubt going to fit into many peoples ideas for the future as well as a very capable home.

Our shipping container home

Currently we haven’t constructed one here although I have worked in the modular industry as well as container buildings in the UK previously. Reason for being slow off the mark is simply been busy with daily life and also looking for the right location to construct. My wife sent me these photos a few years back of someone’s house construction and as you can see (probably the way I am) it would make one fantastic container home.

multi layered container home idea

The whole design is lots of open spaces blended with modular units giving space for a growing family as people can be on their own floor and at meal times etc. be able to all be in the same place. The other factor I like about this home is the amount of land it takes up on its lower level as it will fit on many lot areas here in the Philippines easily and this one is already here in Talisay, Cebu (near us). The other important thing here though is generally city planning isn’t a problem below 4 levels which also fits in with this home and our requirements.

multi layered container home idea

An interesting home that doesn’t look over complicated and if placed right will have the benefit of shade on an embankment or hill during the day giving it a cool airy feel to the home. The other thing I like about it is gaps between floors as it all helps with ventilation. You can either live in an insulated box here for air conditioning or work with the elements to cool the house. If I can find the house will try and visit the owner to discuss the construction and any problems they had but I can see our container home being built with a similar design in mind using concrete pillars for framing.