15 Beautifully designed homes made from shipping containers

Building a home from scratch is becoming more expensive by the year, and that keeps most of us out of the housing market. But that could all change with the growing tendency among architects, designers, contractors and future home owners that effectively minimises both the price and the ecological impact of construction work. It has different names, whether it's green, sustainable or ecological architecture and design, they all share the same goal. Recycling plays a big part in that movement and here we'll take a look at 15 great homes made with shipping containers!

Texas, USA

This residence, located in Texas, United States, is used as a guest-house. It was made by Poteet architects, with the aim of integrating the surrounding nature with the building's reused and recycled materials. The foundation was built from repurposed street-lamp posts, and the outdoor deck with recycled plastic bottles. The roof features plants that provide shade and keep the building cool in the hot Texan summers.

New Jersey, USA

It shouldn't come as news that housing in the United States' metropolitan areas is expensive. Then again, there are interesting alternatives. A refurbished shipping container can cost less than £600 (U$ 1,000) and a talented architect can turn a couple of them into the home of your dreams. Adam Kalkin is that kind of a professional, and he built this incredibly modern home for himself out of 12 shipping containers. His design took advantage of the container's malleable surface and created great windows on their sides, allowing the beautiful surrounding landscape to blend in with the extremely modern interior design.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Brazil is one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it's taking the lead in several different tracks. Design and architecture are two of them. In this case, architect Marcio Kogan built a house using 6 containers. Because the piece of land was rather small, Kogan fashioned a multiple-storied building by stacking the containers. Kogan's work is recognisable not only for including reused and recycled materials, but also for the bright colours he chooses for different aspects of his designs.

Toronto, Canadá

Ecopod is a Canadian company engaged in the design and production of houses made from recycled shipping containers. Despite its small size, this house meets all of the expectations for a modern home, and it does so sustainably. Covered in solar panels, it features a system that allows it to open up completely to take advantage of sunny days. The WC, in turn, is connected to a system that allows for sewage treatment and composting.

Ávila, Spain

There's an interesting example of sustainable architecture in Spain too. This home, christened "El Tiemblo", was developed by James & Mau, a duo of architects that in turn participate in Infiniski, a company that specialises in modular and sustainable architecture. This particular project cost £115,000 (€ 140,000) and features every area expected from a high-class residence: a big kitchen, several rooms and an enormous living room that opens to the outside through great big windows.

Mojave Desert, USA

The Ecotech Design Group used six containers to build this large house in the middle of the Mojave Desert, in the western United States. It was made with low-cost materials. They nevertheless managed to incorporate many sustainable solutions to everyday issues, such as a 10,000-litre tank to gather rainwater and a garden on the roof to keep the building cool in the desert heat.

Pont Péan, France

The french architecture agency CG Architectes assambled this two-storey building with four shipping containers. The ground floor features a green area to grow vegetables, and the first floor has some solar panels to generate some of the energy for the residence. There's an additional small guest house, built entirely with repurposed planks of wood.

California, USA

Peter DeMaria designed this house that now stands on the shores of Redondo Beach, California. Built out of eight containers, the residence includes a swimming pool and is completely fire, earthquake, hurricane, and termite-proof. Best of all: the house cost half as much as it would have if it had been built with regular materials.

New York, USA

LOT-EK is a studio headed by Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano that started developing sustainable designs in 1999. Their Mobile Dwelling Unit prototype was designed with the purpose of easing the combination of different modules to build a full-fledged home, with bath, kitchen, sleeping and living areas.

Curacavi, Chile

Infiniski used three containers to create this two-storey, bridge-shaped home. This design is particularly efficient when it comes to saving energy, keeping the rooms ventilated and taking advantage of the surrounding landscape. 85 per cent of the construction materials were either recycled or repurposed. Due to the use of natural sources of energy, 70 per cent of the residence's electricity is produced sustainably.

Hamptons, USA

"Beach box" was the name given to this residence designed by Andrew Anderson. Made with four containers on the ground floor and two for the first floor, it's the first house in the upscale Hamptons built with recycled containers and is in the market for over £600,000 (U$ 1 mill.). The same construction company has other projects in the area that should go, once finished, for sums between £2 million and £3 million (U$ 4 and U$ 5 mill.).

Cove Park, Scotland

This building was constructed with six containers in the vicinity of Long Lake. It was designed as centre for creative professionals. The three units, known as "cubes" were built by Urban Space Management. Each of them has sliding doors to balconies that extend over the lake, and have grass on the roof to better isolate them from the cold outside.

Wuxi, China

Arcgency, a Danish architecture agency, built this house in a style heavily influenced by Scandinavian design, with three bamboo-covered shipping containers. This very versatile construction style can adapt to different types of climate and landscape. The house has many windows, mostly facing outside, but also some on the inside, allowing light to flow through the house and enhance the sense of space. The roof has vegetation that, in addition to insulating the structure from the outside, filters rainwater for its later use.

Lille, France

Eight containers were combined to create this house in just three days. Designed by architect Patrick Partouche, and constructed by the company Progeco Dunkirk, the building has two storeys and complies with all regulations set forth by the municipality of Lille.

Salzburg, Austria

Espace Mobile prefabricated this house, which was assembled on site after delivery. The total cost of a house like this lies between £ 45,000 (€ 55,000) and £80,000 (€ 95,000) depending on the chosen modules, size and interior design. The concept aims to be energy efficient and thermally insulated. This retro-styled home comes with a three year warranty.

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About the Author

Lori Rill has been an educator in Pennsylvania for more than 20 years, which led her to writing a young adult novel, "Violet’s Secret," and a blog on education issues. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. The Texas resident now coordinates education programs for the state’s Historical Commission and gathering new (and old) stories for her next novel.