8 Eye-Catching Shipping Container Homes

Modern home against a night sky

<a href="http://www.lwarc.com/res_bgcontainer.html">lwarc.com</a>

Not too long ago, the notion of living in an 8- by 20-foot box was enough to stop a potential homebuyer in his tracks and send him running for the exits. The rise of innovative green architecture has created an increasingly in-vogue practice: rejiggering, stacking and linking rugged and versatile freight shipping containers and transforming them into fully inhabitable homes.

An excellent method of reusing — there are more than 300 million shipping containers sitting empty at ports around the world — shipping containers are used to build full- and part-time single-family homes and much more. In their most basic form, recycled shipping containers offer a quick and inexpensive solution to emergency housing needs and when stacked sky-high, they make for intriguing dormitory complexes.

Below are eight particularly eye-catching recycled shipping container dwellings — ranging from off-the-grid vacation retreats to beachside palaces to traditional-looking, three-bedroom family homes — that we wouldn’t mind coming home to (at least for a couple of nights).

of 8

Mobile Dwelling Unit


LOT-EK, New York, N.Y.

Many shipping container homes are stacked and linked together to create more living space. That’s not the case with the Mobile Dwelling Unit, a proudly single-decker shipping container home that avoids the claustrophobic “long but narrow” syndrome by incorporating pop-out elements that extended from the 40-foot long, 8-foot wide core of the home, accordion-style. If and when the home is in transit, the elements — kitchen, bathroom, reading nook, bed, desk, sofa and storage space — fold back into their slots.

of 8

The Ecopod


Ecopods.ca, Toronto, Canada

While often used as full-time residences, shipping container homes can make distinctly modern recreational retreats. Think of them as 21st century rustic summer cabins. That’s the idea behind the Ecopod, a rugged and transportable shipping container pied-à-terre that’s built to function off the grid. With its unique “cut out” design, a solar-powered electric winch is used to open and close a double-glazed thermal paned window that, when lowered, doubles as a deck for optimum outdoor lounging time. Insulation in the Ecopod is soy-based, and the flooring is made from recycled rubber.

of 8

Redondo Beach House

DeMaria Design.

DeMaria Design, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

It seems that most multi-shipping container homes make use of only three or four containers. While not cramped by any means, these homes still fall on the petite side when it comes to square footage. The Redondo Beach House from prefab pioneer Peter DeMaria is made from eight shipping containers. This spacious pad (20-foot ceilings and an outdoor lap pool anyone?) in the laidback community of Redondo Beach has garnered a fair amount of mainstream press — including a spot on CNN — and won coveted architectural awards, making it the definitive shipping container trophy home.

of 8

Cordell House

Numen Development, LLC.

Numen Development, LLC , Houston, Texas

Shipping container homes offer endless appeal to adults lusting after modern, sustainable architecture that’s much more than just a straightforward “green house,” but can these structures also be kid-friendly? Kevin Freeman and Jen Feldmann’s homey 1,583 square-foot, three-shipping-container compound in Houston (where there’s no shortage of containers sitting empty at the city’s port) is indeed accommodating for the couple’s son, Eli, and family pooch. However, when young Eli reaches his teenage years, the couple may want to consider acquiring another, probably soundproofed shipping container.

of 8

Container House

Leger Wanaselja Architects.

Leger Wanaselja Architects, Berkeley, Calif.

Living in three, 40-foot refrigerated (instant insulation!) shipping containers has never looked so, well, normal as the Container House from Leger Wanaselja Architects. The 1,350 square-foot, three-bedroom Bay Area abode features green bells and whistles throughout including bamboo flooring, dual-flush toilets, wool carpeting and EnergyStar appliances. Because of its traditional (but far from staid) appearance, this beauty is the ideal place to shock new houseguests with the news that “Surprise! You’re standing in a repurposed shipping container!”

of 8

Manifesto House

Antonio Corcuera/Infiniski.

Infiniski, Madrid, Spain

Built cheaply ($118,000), quickly (in fewer than 90 days) and primarily with recycled objects (two 40-foot shipping containers and two 20-foot shipping containers and wooden pallets), the two-story Manifesto House designed by architects James & Mau in Curacavi, Chile, proves that quick, inexpensive and green contemporary casas can indeed be good-looking. In addition to being constructed from 85 percent recycled, reused and nonpolluting materials, the bioclimatic and modular design of Manifesto House incorporates alternative energy systems. We think it looks like the perfect spot to kick back, relax and have a couple of cervezas all the while keeping our eco-footprints at a bare minimum.

of 8

Ross Stevens House


Ross Stevens, Wellington, New Zealand

We at MNN admire folks who know what they want and go out and do it, conventions be damned. That’s what Ross Stevens, an industrial design lecturer at Wellington’s Victoria University, did with his striking, modern shipping container home. Built from three smooth-skinned, slate-gray shipping containers stacked on top of each other like building blocks against a steep hillside, the Stevens abode, with its large windows and terraces, appears to be the ultimate shipping container home with a view.

of 8

M2ATK Container House


M2ATK, Mexico

No matter how hard they try to blend in, shipping container homes, at their core, are exceedingly hip. Mexican designer M2ATK’s Container House plays up the hip factor with winning results. Custom-designed for an artist craving both inspiration and relaxation, each stacked container in the three-story structure has a specific purpose: live, sleep and work. It looks a bit modernist stark, but the home is fully tricked-out with a bathroom, kitchen, climate control systems and other necessities of a conventional dwelling.