12 outstanding shipping container home designs

In these examples, the container from a universal symbol of transportation and goods storage is rethought in a domestic way, inspiring an alternative vision of dwelling.

If one conceives containers exclusively as boxes for the transport and storage of goods, as well as a modular unit of measurement (“cargo unit”) for the design and dimensioning of warehouses for logistics, the idea that one can live in a place like that would automatically raise anathemas against the alleged commodification of living values and the debasement of human dignity.

If, on the other hand, one thinks that the use of containers in construction has for some time now not only made it possible to stem emergency housing needs due to cataclysms or imposing migratory flows, but has also given rise to interventions that are strongly characterised from a compositional point of view, offering comfortable spaces suited to the needs of everyday life, then one can also reconsider the usual prejudices.

This is demonstrated by some projects that have been able to transform the most prosaic symbol of in-thermodal transport into a domestic ‘home’: an intimate home where one can take refuge away from city tensions and abandon oneself to a pacifying relationship with Nature (2 + weekend house by Jure Kotnic, Containers of Hope by Studio Saxe, Container House by Måns Tham, Escape Den by River and Rain, Squirrel Park by AHMM, Starburst House by Whitaker Studio, Floating Cubes by Younghan Chung Architects, Ventanilla Modules by TRS Studio); or a cosy housing solution for temporary study and work needs, under the banner of functionality and relational dynamism (Keetwonen by Tempohousing, Sea Container Housing by Travis Price Architects, Frankie & Johnnie by Holzer Kobler Architekturen).

Beyond technical problems (especially insulation) that ordinary metal structures in certain climates do not solve, the advantages of a container dwelling are several: from reduced costs compared to conventional housing, to rapid construction times, to ease of disassembly and reallocation, to a sustainable approach involving the reconversion of elements no longer used in logistics.

This is why, at a time of generalised impoverishment and global nomadism, it is perhaps worth questioning ourselves on the role of a “fluid” and essential architecture that, with a bit of rough romanticism and in defiance of the code of permanence in building, embraces the universal value of living as a “protective nest”, wherever and wherever it may be.  

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