This kind of shipping container architecture makes sense.
Back when I was in architecture school, playing with shipping container architecture (my dad was an industry pioneer so I learned about them early), the idea of stacking up empty boxes never occurred to me. Back then, shipping containers were really expensive, and handling equipment was not so ubiquitous, so I designed boxes to be full, with folding down walls and pull-outs; only the kitchens and bathrooms were fixed. And you never did a permanent installation; shipping containers are designed to move. That is their whole raison d’être.
That’s why I was so excited by the G-pod when we covered it in 2015, G-Pod shipping container has the works in a drawer. But then it was all renderings in Australia; now it is real and coming to Texas.
They describe it as, “Transportable luxury accommodation, architecturally designed and manufactured with a focus on environmental sustainability and impeccable build quality.”
Shipping containers were designed for freight, and it is really hard to fit people into them. That’s why the pop-outs are so important to making them into comfortable spaces. They are hard to seal and thermally are never terrific, but nobody has ever demonstrated that shipping container architecture was practical, sensible or energy efficient.
The G-pod has a heat pump system, LED lighting, full plumbing with a water pump and a gas water heater. The design as shown would require full hookups to water and sewer, and probably power. This is always the problem; in the FAQ they describe installation for an on-grid location:
Simply position it on site with the adjustable legs provided, fold down the deck, expand the slide out sections, install the fly roof over the deck and connect to local power, water and waste water services.
Outside of trailer parks, it’s hard to imagine where you find those connections. It is always a problem I have had with this kind of design; all dressed up and nowhere to go, designed to be mobile but tethered by the reality of services.
In the FAQ, they note that for an off-grid model, you “install the rainwater bladder and connect to a wastewater storage or treatment system (wastewater connection not required if chemical toilet installed).”
A unit like this falls into a funny niche. It’s designed to be mobile, which is why it packs into a shipping container, but it is not quite as mobile as a trailer or an RV. And yet it is too expensive to be logical for a fixed location.
When I was playing with these in the seventies I imagined that they might be great for seasonal uses; set it up by a lake in the north in summer and ship it south for winter, following the seasons. Or they might be great for festivals, where they park for a couple of weeks; but then there was the question of the sewage and water hookups.
The G-pod is one of the best shipping container-based designs I have seen, a magic box full of stuff that pulls out and sets up in a few hours. But it will face the same challenge this idea has always faced: Where do you put it? Where does it make sense? I wish them luck in solving that one. More at G-pod.
The original video: