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A ‘shipping container home’ within a home shows off a really interesting concept – a home within a home.  With the owners industrial sized loft appartment

The couple faced one major issue: how to add a guest bedroom / office without disrupting the flow of the space. Solution? Shipping containers! After finding and prepping the containers, the two crates were crane-lifted into the apartment through the roof, with the blue “office” container stacked atop the orange guest room.

All too often here on we focus on how to build a new home from containers so adding a room in a pre-existing home appealed due to it being different.  What appeals as well is the minimalistic approach.  While many people that use containers for homes attempt to disguise the fact that they’ve used containers – Jeff Wardell’s approach is different – there’s no disguising the raw material here but we’re loving the fantastic use of space – just look at what they’ve crammed in there – and while the styling may not appeal to everyone (to me it looks a little cold or raw) you have to admire what’s been produced.

January round up of shipping container home news

With Christmas out of the way January was a bit of a quiet month in the world of container homes – however there was still some interesting titbits.


1/ Starbucks open a container store:

Stabucks opened up a container store over in Seattle – while you could argue that its more a proof of concept (or marketing gimmick) and its not the best looking container property its still an interesting idea and follows on from many of the container stores idea’s that we’ve seen previously. has a nice piece on it and an interesting quote from a starbucks spokesperson -

Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz told the New York Times that the eco-friendly concept may lead to more container stores (not to be confused with The Container Store). It will also be one of a kind for another reason, the first “among the 17,000 Starbucks stores globally in that it will be drive-up and walk-up only with no space to lounge inside.”


2/ Sustainblog has a nice piece on using shipping containers for factories in particular fuel charcoal production – following an interview with CEO of re:char Jason Aramburu, it really does pose some interesting ideas on what the future of shipping container use could be.

3/ Grace over at blogs about a fabulous cabin made out of, yes you guessed it, a shipping container.  It’s a great example of what can be achieved – is not overly complicated but killer effective – there’s a series of fantastic photo’s and a floor plan to inspire you.

4/ shows off stacked shipping containers used to show off wares at Berlin’s  Bread & Butter Berlin (BBB) trade show.

The shipping containers were stacked on top of one another, in an industrial-looking setup that blended with the warehouse setting. The D.O.C.K exhibit was by the Sport & Street section and featured brands like TokykioDreamTeamMutewatchSebago, and Waiting for the Sun

So that’s our brief round up for January 2012 – be sure to check back soon for more picks on shipping container home news.

Starbucks opens a shipping container store

It’s amazing what lengths Starbucks will go to, for attention. It’s not enough that they are the number one coffee retailer in the world, or that you can’t roll a bowling ball down a street without hitting three of them, but now they’ve gone ahead and shown up all the coffee shops in the world that were lame enough to do business in a plain old brick and mortar building.

In the news is the latest and most innovative Starbucks yet. It is located in Tukwila, Washington and is located inside not one, not two or three, but four shipping containers, for the most creative instance of upcycling we’ve seen in a long time. The drive thru store, which opened its doors (hatches?) on Dec 13, 2011, is home to about 450 square feet of usable space. The containers are stacked in such a way as to be pleasing to the eye, rather than just lined up end on end like any old coffee shop could do.

The messages Starbucks is sending with this unique store are important. Firstly, whether intentional or not the irony of them doing business inside the same type of containers that traditionally send and receive their products all around the world is not lost on the consumer. And secondly, they are sending a message about the importance of reuse and making new out of old.

(image from


The containers themselves are of two different sizes, three are forty feet long, and one is twenty, and they work really well to create an eco-industrial type feel to this store. The store with the shipping container home is unique in that it is the only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in Tukwila. And it is unique to the Starbucks Corporation as it is one of very few that has no seating inside.

Shipping containers as storefronts isn’t a completely new idea as there are other companies that paved the way for Starbucks, but it’s not like you see them all over. Stockbox grocers out of Seattle have set up grocery stores of the pop up variety, meant to allow people access to a grocery store where none are easily accessible.

Considering the typical lifespan of a container is around twenty years, a shipping container home for a business seems like a good idea. It keeps the containers out of the scrap yard, saves on alternate materials needed for new construction and is a unique marketing idea that will draw in new customers.

December round up of shipping container home news

There’s an odd practice afoot in the homemaking industry. People, who are of the green mindset, are taking large, corrugated shipping containers, and turning them into makeshift homes and apartments. When you delve deeper, though, it becomes obvious why, and the ingenuity and sheer genius of these new age architects.

The building materials themselves are something else: designed to stack on top of one another, they become the perfect modular segmentation in an apartment block. You can build single condos across, or towering high rises vertically.

These containers are, by design, water proof, and provide a ready-made building block to create any sort of home you want. They’re very structurally sound: each crate can hold the weight of handful of crates on top of it. They were made to be stacked one atop the other, and can handle gale force winds without so much as a whisper.

Inside, each crate creates a spacious, rectangular room; with new and innovative building techniques, whole suites are created by using multiple crates stacked aside another.Multiple high rise apartment complexes are being produced cheaply and quickly using the containers; even environmentalists are satisfied, since the containers are very green and the construction produces very little, if any, toxic waste.

Commercial buildings are even being produced using these containers as a building block: As we can see courtesy of Marine Insight, there are quite a few amazing restaurants that make use of the containers. You can see their list at More than that, there’s even a brewery that uses this building method: The coffee giant Starbucks is even getting in on the action, allegedly, anyway; SeattlePi has the article over at

Being used for more than just living space, shipping containers are allowing anyone to have fresh, organic grown vegetables anywhere they wish. The rectangular containers make a great personal space for a garden: they’re ecofriendly, keep the weather out, and are easily transportable to move your garden wherever you wish. Check out more over at, courtesy of The idea of portable space customized to fit needs even appeals to the military: meet the base in a box,

You may think such living would come at great sacrifice, that living in such an eco friendly manner must be pure hell. In fact, the opposite is true: living in a shipping container-based home can be as comfortable or as spartan as you want it to be. You’re limited only by the laws of physics and your own imagination.

Stacks of containers easily accommodate plumbing and electric, and the steel walls provide a fine insulation when combined with a spray on polyurethane foam insulation. It’s easy to see why this trend in building has taken Europe by storm, since the disused containers are easy to find and cheap enough that creating a whole neighborhood of crate homes is economically feasible:  forward thinking designers are already creating the homes of the future, built from rectangular steel cubes.

This fad has become something more now, something truly sustainable. When old junk is lying around, people innovate and find new uses for someone else’s refuse; in that way, we’re saving the environment and improving our own lives a day at a time.

Shipping containers and prefabricated homes has a great piece on the growing use of shipping container homes.  It’s a good starter for those looking for an introduction and the feature includes several examples (including one from Intermodal design)

The article makes a good point in:

Like all homes, shipping containers need to encompass all that is needed to make it livable. Prefabricated containers do take necessity into consideration by attempting to install whatever is needed to convert them into homes. And while not everyone may warm to the idea in view of the work that goes into making them livable as well as the limited space issue, there is no denying that the concept is an answer for those who can’t afford conventional housing.

For more click the link at the start of this piece.

Just to show you we’re not all about house building – a great story from Dubai where refurbished shipping containers have been used to create an outdoor cafe. reports

Using three used containers developers – Smart Box industries have created a unique refreshment area showing off what can be done with recycled sustainable materials.

The purpose-built Outdoor Café has been designed to be both aesthetically appealing and practical at the same time.  C.M. Suri, Smart Box General Manager explained, “Our in-house team of highly innovative architects has developed a unique structure that is eye catching and functional. Smart Box allows the freedom of ‘user driven design’ to be translated into professional architecturally engineered construction.”

Nathan Waugh, Event Manager for MEC and PMV Live, commented on Smart Box’s participation in this year’s event. He explained, “We’re delighted to feature such an innovative and sustainable product at this year’s event. The Smart Box Outdoor Café adds an element of originality and excitement to this exhibition and many of our exhibitors and visitors have already been making the most of the space during their downtime at the event.”

You can visit smartbox here – Here’s a pic of the development


Shipping container homes in unusual places! has a nice piece on shipping container homes. The article focus’s on how shipping container’s can be used for multiple uses, for homes, commercial and also for remote accomodation. That last one is perhaps the most interesting. Its no secret that shipping container homes are great in extreme circumstances (think Haiti) but also they are ideally suited to unusual conditions given thier modular approach and rapid setup/build time.

A rainforest shipping container retreat.
A good example of this is a remote rainforest reteat that was built in far North Queensland, Australia. The building site was remote and due to the dense rainforest and high rainfall access to the site was not easy. Shipping containers were mounted on concrete filled PVC pipe and created an effective, quick and easy home.

Follow the link above for more.

Shipping container – holiday accomodation

While we normally cover building homes utilizing shipping containers I couldn’t resist this piece from the travel writer Dave Fox.

He discusses his recent stay in Kuala Lumpur at the 41 Berangan guest house.

If you ever want to design a Malaysian-style courtyard, here is how you do it, 41-Berangan-style: Find a concrete building. Place a shipping container at a right angle to that building. Then place another shipping container at a right angle to the first shipping container. Add a small table and a couple of potted palms, and voila! Instant courtyard!

I don’t know about you, but when I think of sleeping in shipping containers, I think of human trafficking or dead refugees. The padlock on the door did not look inviting. But I had slept in weird places before. Two nights in a shipping container would be… “quirky!”


Its a really entertaining piece and just shows you that shipping containers really do have a multitude of uses!!!

Click the link for more



Using steel containers for home building

More on Kenneth R. Gosselin container home build in New Haven, this time from they have a cool video up featuring Bob Villa talking about using containers.

From the post:

“The industry is young but growing — with perhaps 1,000 units on the drawing board in the next year in this country and Canada,” he writes.

For more (& the video) click the link above.

News from the Hartford Courant – Architect Christian E. Salvati is looking to construct his latest building from six steel shipping containers -

The frame of the two-family house was fashioned by stacking and welding together six steel shipping containers — yes, those 45-footers that are hoisted onto seagoing vessels or loaded onto 18-wheeler flatbeds — three, side-by-side, for each floor. The interior walls of the containers are being carved out to make way for kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms.

One of the unsurprising parts of the article is the description of the puzzled faces at the town planning dept – For most Shipping containers are still an odd building block to construct your home from and for the uninitiated it must come accross as a little odd to be building your home from such non-traditional material.

Another aspect that shows that its still early days in the container home market is the comment that – “The industry is young but growing — with perhaps 1,000 units on the drawing board in the next year in this country and Canada”.

Its a really interesting article (you can read it here – check it out – accompanying it is a cool video featuring Christian E. Salvati’s project.

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