This Cozy connect prefab in California is it the future of container living?
Connect:Homes came up with this fantastic home design and look to reinvent the modular prefabricated home market. This is their prototype which was shown at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles. Seems so far so good with the idea and the interior design was carried out by Kishani Perera to give it some home touches.
The Connect:2.1 plan is designed with one bedroom, one bathroom, and a galley kitchen. I can see this having many uses from a stop over retreat, budget first home to retirement housing.
The concept has also gone down the green route with non toxic materials, energy efficient appliances as well as recycled materials such as the surfaces and tiling.
The price isn’t exactly cheap but I am sure it will have many takers at $105,000 although delivery and installation will be extra.
Shipping container homes are the home of the future due to their extremely flexible structures.
Although many people have an idea of what their ideal home looks like in their mind ask them to sketch or design it and things start becoming rather foggy. In reality we are often told things or fed things via media without even realising it. Is your ideal home for example going to have a rather pitched roof? Why is that? This is a typical example of what I am talking about as its a TV stereotype that is often seen as the home we want. There is no real reason the roof has to have a pitch in the way people imagine except for the fact we are pre-programmed with many things as right and wrong without any thought to does it really make any difference?
In reality we are often put off things as being a bad idea or not the norm because everything is based round particular social designs and thoughts. But the funniest thing here being that shipping containers can be modular design and this is why it also fits into this even though its thinking out of the box.
The modular way to join containers side by side or stack means people can physically imagine an object when designing a shipping container home. Measurements are fixed into each container giving you fixed measurements for each module in the home.
What can put people off though is the space odd thing is living in Asia I have seen people living in single rooms with 6 – 10 people and pretty much everything is in that room including cooking facilities. That is taking minimal living to the extreme but the point being homes have gotten bigger and bigger over time. Yet our debts have grown with them as well forcing up land and home values with it and for what? Its an artificially inflated market and I am much happier if living in a 4 bedroom home with 3 rooms rented out paying my mortgage off. Than I would be with an empty 4 bedroom house where I am working night and day to pay for it.
Quality of life is all depending on the routes you take in life, modular shipping container housing can give you low cost housing that can be adapted and extended as a family grows.
One of the most common statements when talking about shipping container homes is I can’t live in a container but why?
I started to look into social media and how things have changed over the years. I believe we now occupy three times if not more space than we used to but do we need to is never asked? We are told we need a bigger house, bigger car, an ipad,computer,laptop and yet nobody stops to say won’t one do the job?
Won’t a computer do the job of the iPad and laptop? Or more importantly would the laptop keep you mobile and do away with the other two? tie that in with a dongle and Skype you don’t need a phone anymore either.
We are living in the cluttered age not modern. a 60” plasma is wanted or needed yet I confess I owned 2 plasma TV’s in my last UK home yet you know how many hours I watched TV on them? answer is zero as I use my computer. This is why we can live in a container and yet many people can’t even see the benefits of the wake up call.
One plasma is fine in a container home as it hangs on the wall. There is no way you would need 2! Computer you have to think of its space and very likely to go down the route of a laptop and generally this is how people living in a container think. Do I need it and what is the best option?
But those who say no way I can’t live in a shipping container I bet they find their credit cards often maxed out and they always seem to have more stuff than they have space for it. Not a nag at them as simply this is a consumerist society that is always telling us this is the way life should be.
Funny now though as the combustion engine car is starting to feel the pain of oil prices or more importantly we are. The U.S. still struggles to find cars under 4.0 litre engines yet most of the rest of the world has done just fine for at least 50 years. Fact is times are a changing and the population is growing at a rate that really it shouldn’t be.
We need more space where I say we need to use what we have better. We need to get to A to B and have a right to a car where I say can you work from home some days and actually have a better quality of life and be more productive?
All in all those who think they can’t live in a container will eventually find that costs are going to see people starting to think smaller in some form. Be it land taxes, heating or cooling. Everything is on the downward spiral of getting expensive.
After recent email exchanges with Brandon regarding the Klaas modular building I have started to look at the idea for a current project we have here in Minglanilla,Cebu,Philippines.
Because we have an area that has a roof on it already but it was originally supposed to be dismantled and a new concrete base added as a second floor. Then looked at the idea of a shipping container being added instead to save dismantling the roof as we could just extend the pillars then dismantle the roof later. This would save disrupting the store that exists underneath where the new building would be going.
But now looking at the construction methods of the Klaas I get the feeling not only would it be cheaper to create a steel deck and build up from it in a similar manner but it could easily be done in stages across the pillars. The design of the Klaas home/office is well suited for this type of work as well as other locations. I will advertise here Brandon’s website once its up and running for those in Malaysia.
The project isn’t going to happen overnight as I do have to head to the UK shortly but it will certainly be happening once work is setup in the UK. I prefer doing things while I am out of country simply because I can balance the books easier as the cash flow reduces rapidly when I am in the Philippines. With my wife as site supervisor and working with modular construction something I have worked a lot with this should be a project that is easy for others to follow. But more importantly one that can also be kept within its budget.
This may seem to defeat the idea for some being “green” but here in the Philippines its not always about recycling simply because containers aren’t readily available.
Take a shipping containers basic structure and what I see is a very simple building block that can be replicated side by side. and more importantly easy to build. Now what your doing with the container blocks will make a difference in the support structure and density of the steel for load bearing purposes. Why I am pointing that out is that someone may go “its cheaper to buy a container” well here in the Philippines its not unless you know something I don’t.
Your main dimensions you need to work on are based on transportation needs and not the home itself. For example if you took this open sketched version as a real building block you can actually attach other containers in any direction. Even stacking one on top and removing several of the floor beams for a staircase.
Why this is important is that from an engineers point of view it becomes extremely easy to put a value on materials as well as labour costs. You can decide on sections do you weld or bolt? but all in all you can get a real accurate price structure on your modular container construction.
Building them within standard transportation design metrics also means that you can make these off site or more importantly speed up production and lower costs. These buildings can be built in a factory and shuttered along on a conveyor system or as we used to do in the UK moved by forklifts. E.g. outside we used to weld the frames together before they were transported indoors to have the walls installed.
Pretty much the whole thing can be produced on site in a factory then all the modules can be joined together at their final destination. But that’s not always useful and with many of the areas in the Philippines its full of mountains. How many containers can you fit inside one if just cut and stripped down ready for putting together and welding/bolting? 2 – 3 trucks could be transporting virtually the entire house in parts that could physically be carried and erected on site.
This idea is something I have thought of due to one of my wife’s relatives having half a mountain for sale and this could see homes perched on the top and the most sensible way of transporting materials to the location.
Klaas Cabin by Kinwai marketing in Malaysia offered this modular home design which I think will stir up a lot of interest in the design not just in Malaysia but most of Asia for those interested in modular design.
I have been talking to Brandon from the company and looking at the design of the home can see why this would be something that could be picked up by many markets in Asia. The first thing being that exterior wise the Klaas cabin has a rather unique and modern feel to it. Which if your used to the concrete jungle like the Philippines where hollow block concrete blocks are king then it brings a nice contrast to everything around us. The exterior cladding no doubt sits on an internal frame work which is then sees ply overlaid on the interior. Ok ply may not suit everyone but in reality its a “choice” and that’s part of modular building the ability to change parts to suit peoples choices and needs.
The exterior layout with its roof light openings allow a lot of natural light to enter the building throughout the day. Obviously another section that can be altered to suit someone’s needs be it glazed, glass blades or even just vented depending on the persons needs. The wood framing around the windows add a finishing touch will adding a bit of security grilling for the home or office. Finished off with exterior lighting along the length of the building.
The interior ply walls seem at home in the design which is a little bit strange for me as its not normally a “finished” use product for me. I do use ply like this but generally its flooring or sheeted over and then cladded. but with the wood flooring it looks very at home.
All in all can see a lot of uses for this here in the Philippines as well as other countries and I am interested to find out more about the structural building and how it fits together. Is it built on a wooden frame, aluminium or steel? Because to be honest I can see my next office being built in the same way as this building with a similar design. I would like to thank Brandon for sharing their company design of their modular home product which by the way hasn’t got the limitations of shipping container dimensions due to being custom built! You can alter the dimensions to suit your needs and land space. You can contact Brandon regarding building enquiries at email@example.com
The last article got me thinking about the issues we have getting our hands on good containers here in the Philippines. In reality it looks like fabricating a container is cheaper than buying a second hand one.
So why not start to think about the external dimensions and look to fabricate instead of buying a shipping container in the first place. Because believe it or not getting fabricated steel sheeting is extremely easy in the Philippines as its primarily used for roofing. The wall cladding is just as easy to get hold of which just leaves the issue of the framing. Can it be done cheaper than buying second hand containers? I am thinking its pretty close the only real difference being with a bit of luck the shipping container is guaranteed on its steel quality. Seeing how quickly things can deteriate here if not maintained properly as well as the fact many things are sub standard does make me worry about the steel. Can it be guaranteed to last?
I think the only people who can answer that is taking a visit to a fabrication plant and discussing it directly. Ignore sales people! you need to talk to the owners and see what guarantees they can offer. So why go with steel cladding instead of concrete?
- Rapid installation.
- Frame can be pre-fabricated offsite.
- Internal walls can be thinner.
- Exterior is easier to maintain and nicer finish than concrete.
- Wiring and pipework can be installed internally behind partition walling.
They are but a few things I can think of right now but there many more such as they don’t crack the way concrete does and do the insulation right you’ve got a better property for all weathers.
I am very keen on pre-fabricated houses that are dropped into place but also bearing in mind what if like many homes you drop the concrete slab on for a second floor to build later? This could actually be an easy solution as you can build the place on site if needed with basic hand tools. If there is no concrete floor for the 2nd level you could even remove the roof and drop a premade second floor straight on the support walls from below and having steel joists to support the floor.
A whole new angle here in the Philippines away from the original idea of shipping container housing. But it doesn’t mean we have given up but simply looking at what is most cost affective for our next project.
The original prototype Eco-Pak house constructed in Turkey throws up some interesting ideas about shipping container home design due to not only making the shipping container part of the home. But also the fact that you can utilise the shipping container to transport a lot of the equipment and materials required for the build. Looking at the steel frame work design it does appear that it can all fit inside the container. For the first fix it could allow the starting on the project as soon as the container arrives with a secure storage area.
The “Eco-Pak” development was the brainchild of an aircraft structural engineer James Green of Building Container LLC. The system has a U.S. patent with international patents pending, James teamed up with Seattle-based architect Matthew Coates to develop the system. Its primary goals were to make a building that was low cost, structurally sound as well as transportable without the need of a concrete base.
The flexibility of the steel design allows for many variables and all delivered via the shipping container unit that comes with the building. A prototype version will be put together in 2013 by Coates Design in the Seattle area.
Source: Coates Design, Building Container
One of the most interesting shipping container home projects has been the colourful container homes in Amsterdam utilised for student accommodation.
We have talked about these before and its good to see the buildings are still causing a bit of media interest. Not only because of being a cheap solution to housing for students but also can just as easily be a solution for couples or single people in need of housing generally. The current housing crisis hasn’t drastically affected homes in Europe as many people tied with the economic downturn generally can’t afford a rung on the housing ladder even with reduced prices. Shipping container homes could actually fill some of that gap but even if not shipping containers the fact is smaller homes make sense on many levels.
As you can see above the home is fully functional and provides the daily needs of students. Below the space can be utilised for a workspace. Whatever way you look at it thinking smaller makes people think of how to get the most out of the space they have. Also the fact they reduce their costs on things like electric and heating.
Photograph by Paul O’Driscoll, Bloomberg/Getty Images
They may seem a little bland from the outside but I also think people living in these types of environments geared towards a specific age group and type of people may actually develop better social development. Having community areas and small restaurants etc. could also feed into the idea. I know when I am city living I just need a roof over my head and a space to relax in the evenings. Having something like this would be perfect as generally I eat out and wouldn’t even need any cooking facilities.
There have been problems with not only shipping container homes for the poor but other housing developments and its mainly down to one thing.
People make decisions for others based on assumptions, they haven’t integrated with the communities they are trying to help to assess not only the daily needs but also if the project is viable.
Bamboo homes on stilts offer natural ambient temperature to the home due to the airflow as well as the ground beneath the home heats up during the day and at night that heat rises to keep the home warm. The space beneath the home sees air travel and for tropical climates its been a naturally good home for centuries. How do you adapt a shipping container home to supply the needs of people who will not be able to afford air conditioning or electric?
Also remembering people are used to the outdoors and opening the home to the elements is also essential in maintaining that natural environment that people come from. Doesn’t need to all be “in house” but communal areas that allow people to congregate and meet up are essential in maintaining the normal community.
But what else about cooling? You need to take on ideas from existing architects as the information is already there. It may not be developed for shipping container homes but a lot of it can be. Researching Indian, Thai and African home designs with “natural cooling” will give you plenty of ideas. E.g. mud huts due to the natural properties offer a great cheap home construction method yet is it out of place or too old to be used? I would look at modern mud home design as I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.
Water can offer a natural cooling affect in homes as well and has been utilised in India for a long time in areas such as central pool areas in courtyards. Learning how air and water can work together and developing courtyard communal areas there are ways to get cooler air to move round housing developments. Some of these ideas will be a bit hit and miss initially but long term learning how to use them saves not only money but also needs. E.g. naturally cooling means no need for fans or air conditioning, which also means a reduced need for electricity.
There are solutions to every problem but I have seen many a project messed up and not because shipping container homes or in fact large scale brick and mortar homes are wrong. But simply the planning and designs haven’t been thought through properly on immediate and long-term needs of the community. Yes we all want to help but if it makes peoples lives harder it defeats the object of what we are doing.