Since years, cargo shipping containers dominate the transport of goods over oceans and land. No wonder that most of us are familiar with these industrial-shape, rugged and boringly identical steel boxes. Recently however, we can observe that these truly uninspiring containers found new life in commercial, housing and in general “construction” industry. Such applications like storage spaces, garages, sheds are probably nothing new.
However, most of us were probably taken by surprise seeing that cargo shipping containers are more and more often used for working or living spaces. Be it offices, hunting cabins, retail stores, all sort of temporary booths, small weekend houses, public spaces, temporary housing in zones of natural disasters, residential houses and even large multi-storey buildings. In a wider sense we will call them – “Container-Based Habitable Spaces”.
It’s a fast-growing trend with seemingly unrestricted opportunities, characteristic for modular Lego-type structures where the only limit is our imagination. At first look, it may be still hard to put together pictures of a rugged metal box next to the warm, stylish residential house, but it’s not the first time when reality largely exceeded our traditional way of thinking.
In fact, shipping containers make amazing “construction blocks” and when arranged and finished with a dose of creativity, they can produce modern, stunningly stylish multi-container structures architecturally matching if not exceeding traditional commercial and residential structures. One can say – Welcome to the large scale Legoland!
Given the fact that each year tens if not hundreds of thousands of shipping containers are retired from transport, it was almost obvious that one day they will find their way to the market avoiding the final destination in voracious steel plants or simply abandonment. Not surprisingly, due to overwhelmingly positive market reaction, new businesses solely dedicated to the design and manufacturing of Shipping Containers Houses took the idea further. The Customized Container Houses were born!
The rest is history dotted with rapidly growing number of colorful and elegant container-based structures. You will find them as single-unit container cabins, mountain retreats, offices, tiny houses, but also (on the opposite side of construction’s spectrum) as luxurious multi-unit residential mansions or multi-stories public buildings. Removing adjacent walls allows for “seamless” integration of individual modules into larger interior spaces.
Taking the best from “Legoland”, the architecture based on cargo shipping containers quickly established its own image and place in the construction industry. Despite being still in an infancy period it’s already identified as “ArkiTainer” or “CargoTecture”, creating its own, recognizable brand name.
It’s true that many container-based structures (especially public spaces) may be still arranged in tasteless “industrial-style” piles of boxes attached side-by-side and stacked on top of each other. But it is also true that by rotating and spatially shifting interleaved 20ft and 40ft modules we can turn the boring piles of steel into the Wonderland of Creativity & Imagination.
In order to achieve desired architectural and functional goals, shipping containers are often accompanied by traditional construction materials. This opens even larger “horizons” for human creativity – “Hybrid Container Structures”. Once integrated with roof-gardens, patios, decks, terraces, pergolas, swimming pools… (you name it), suspended over slopes, cliffs or water, the otherwise modest 20 and 40ft-equivalent micro-homes, now in their multi-modular incarnations of metal and glass, can easily compete with traditional residential mansions. With customized insulation, proper ventilation and heating/cooling systems, they can provide stylish and comfortable living space on any geographical latitude spanning from hot and humid tropics to freezing arctic.
Summarizing this introduction into the world of containers-based houses let’s make it clear:
As robust, lower-cost and short construction (or rather set-up) time structures, they make an attractive alternative to traditional construction industry. It’s highly probable, that thanks to their potential Eco-Friendliness, container-based houses will find their well-deserved place in our more and more eco-conscious society.
Shipping Container Home Laws
Prior to opting for container house, check here if it is legal in your country or state.