By now you already know that shipping containers are far more practical than you may have imagined. If you’re still thinking inside the box then you should know that shipping containers are flood and fire proof, making them a great home-building material. Ranging in length from 20 to 40 feet, shipping containers are typically only used for 10 to 15 years, but they can last much longer. It is estimated that there are 24 million empty shipping containers in the world that will not be used for cargo again. But, as the saying goes, one man’s retired shipping container is another man’s crazy high-end modular home. What? That’s not a saying?
Check out these 14 totally tripped out shipping container homes if you need a little more convincing!
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Square Footage: Unknown
The exterior walls of the Decameron Design Shop are just as colorful as the Brazilian neighborhood in which it resides. Renowned architect Marcio Kogan built the low-cost shopping facility using two rows of stacked containers, placing the six containers adjacent to downtown. Translucent sliding doors reveal a smattering of products along the walls when during hours of operation, and to isolate the storefronts from the office, Kogan implemented a garden courtyard near the rear of the property. It’s vibrant and bold, with a center lounge area that’s probably more inviting than your living room.
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Square Footage: 2,000
Adorned with a rooftop terrace and a construction time just under a year, Eco Design Studio’s desert home is one of the few residences on our list representing a student-designer collaboration. The mint-green dwelling sports an industrial design, with concrete floors and a walnut finish, along with tools for collecting solar power and harvesting rainwater. A slew of dual-pane aluminum windows provide ample natural light throughout the year, but it’s the home’s five separate decks that give it astonishing views of the surrounding San Francisco Peaks.
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Square Footage: 1,000
This inexpensive home was created by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe for only $40,000. It’s made with two 40-foot shipping containers. Saxe created this for a couple with the intent of building a rural home that wouldn’t put them in debt. The slanted roof lets the sunlight in but also lets the hot air escape. It is located 20 minutes outside the capital of Costa Rica, but you couldn’t tell from the pictures that it is anywhere near a city of roughly two million people.
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Square Footage: 320
A mere 320 feet of space is not much to work with, that is, unless you’re creating minimalist guest house in your backyard. The private residence, constructed with the help of local Texas architect Jim Poteet, adds a touch of luxury to a recycled shipping container measuring a narrow 8 feet wide and 40 feet long. The foundation of the structure utilizes a bevy of recycled telephone poles, while the flooring and wallcovering feature repurposed bamboo. The roof of the navy-blue crate even offers garden space — making it more than just a space for storing tools and housing people passing through.
Location: Santiago, Chile
Square Footage: 3,800
This shipping container home is located just outside of a large city as well, on a hillside outside of Santiago, Chile and is built from 12 containers. The design was chosen by the family for its quick build time on a reasonable budget. The facade is ventilated and arranged in a way that makes electronic cooling unnecessary, using the natural, cool mountain air as a passive cooling system.
Location: Santa Cruz, California
Square Footage: 1,200Nestled amid the trees of the Santa Cruz mountains and atop an old railway that now serves as an emergency escape route, David Fenster’s project on behalf Modulus was intended to waste as little space as possible and leave minimal impact on the environment. The private residence makes use of six shipping containers space four feet apart from one another, with the second story crates stacked perpendicular to the bottom. Recycled redwood from the site even helped compose the stairwell and much of the furniture, while recycled plywood that was sealed and stained supplied much of the foundation for the flooring.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Square Footage: Unknown
This is technically an office/creative space and not a home, but let’s not be sticklers about that. According to Platoon, the space “hosts art projects, workshops, and events. It also presents a multitude of creative and artistic project that clash with the regular art institutions. Clubculture, subcultural networks, [and] global movements.” Not to mention, as you can see in the image above, the designers turned the face of the building into a multimedia screen that projects images to the outside world.
Location: Curacaví, Chile.
Square Footage: 525
The exterior of most cargo containers isn’t exactly flattering. Fortunately with the Manifesto House, James & Mau Arquitectura decided to incorporate a series of recycled wood pallets and shutters in order to help shade the structure in the summer and heat the metal walls in the winter. The open-space design utilizes three separate shipping containers, each placed in such a way as to allow ample room between the two outdoor patios lining the interior of the home. It also runs primarily on solar energy and features a cantilevered balcony on the top. Eco-efficient is one way to describe it.
Location: Trebnie, Solvenia
Square footage: Unknown
Designer Jure Kotnik’s doesn’t utilize recycling shipping containers. Instead, the polka-dotted house makes use of two perpendicular container units specifically constructed for housing purposes. The bottom container of the modular residence even doubles as a small deck up top, while the top container moonlights as a protective awning for sheltering the entrance to the structure. It’s a very much an IKEA-like approach to traditional design, one in which residents can tweak the layout to their own liking (sans the cafeteria).
Location: Long Island, New York
Square Footage: 840
This studio was built on a budget of $60,000 as an art studio next to someone’s house. The studio was painted charcoal to match their house and blend in with the environment. It has two floors: one for painting, one to relax, reflect, and work on smaller projects. The lower floor is built into the hillside.
Location: Coromandel, New Zealand
Square Footage: Unknown
One of the “Sunset Magazine” homes on this list, this is built on a beautiful beach. Coromandel features two bedrooms, a fireplace for the winter, windows in the front and back, a kitchen, a bathroom, and bi-folding cedar shutters. It’s pretty obvious you won’t be worried about creating a cross-draft to cool the place down in the summer, because this house is completely open-air. This particular owner outfitted the beach house with a bathtub on rollers, we assume so they can be naked in front of anyone passing by on the beach.
Location: Shadow Mountain (near Joshua Tree), California
Square Footage: 2,300
A one-bedroom house that totals 2,300 square feet, this house was built for a client in the media business who wanted a photo studio and large storage areas in a beautiful setting. They used five shipping containers and recycled steel to make it. It has a movable roof and a water harvesting system that collects natural water, because it’s in the desert. It actually surpasses California’s energy requirements by 50 percent. This is a large, eco-friendly, and nice looking residence for the desert, which utilizes an open layout and solar shaded windows to ward off the hot desert air. Shadow Mountain cost over $300,000.
Location: Rosneath Peninsula, Scotland
Square Footage: Unknown
This space hosts artists from all over the world and overlooks Loch Long in Scotland. Edo Architecture provides residencies for visual artists, crafts people, writers, and musicians. Cove Park is only part of a larger complex for the artists in residence. This space has hosted people from Australia, Panama, Mexico, Spain, US, Nigeria, Germany, Holland, Israel, West Bank, China, India, France, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, Russia, Canada and Taiwan, as well as the UK.
Location: Dallas, Texas
Square Footage: 3,700
This is a work in progress (above photo is an artistic rendering). However, it appears they’re on the verge of completing it. This home is located across the street from White Rock Park in Dallas, TX. It has 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bath, a large den, a 2 car garage, and a large roof deck. One of the owners is an architect, so it’s no wonder that they’re going with such an innovative design.
Location: Blue Hill, Maine
Square Footage: 4,000
Open-space architecture is seemingly becoming more and pronounced with time, but one rarely sees it in pre-fabricated homes. However, Adam Kalkin’s take on spatial living makes use of 12 shipping containers and a glazed glass structure to give the residence a direct connection to the great outdoors. Two steel staircases provide access to the upper bedrooms from the living space and kitchen below, providing welcome relief from any wind that may trickle in the house through the two garage-style doors.