Shipping Container House Takes Jumping the Shark to New Heights

Joshua Tree Container House
Joshua Tree Container House.

 Whitaker Studio

Steel boxes make the perfect house for the Joshua Tree desert environment.

Yup, when it’s a hundred and ten degrees in the California desert, there is no better place to be than inside a shipping container. What could be more comfortable than a steel box? Oh, wait -- according to architect James Whitaker in ArchDaily, “exterior and interior surfaces will be painted a bright white to reflect light from the hot desert sun.”


© Whitaker Studios via ArchDailyAt first I thought that this actually existed, it looks so real. You can actually see how silly the bedroom is, where you have to climb over the headboard to get into bed because shipping containers are too narrow to let you walk around the side.

Whitaker studio interior

© Whitaker Studios via ArchDaily

But, in fact, they are all just terrific renderings. According to ArchDaily,

Blossoming from the rugged terrain of the California desert, Whitaker Studio’s Joshua Tree Residence is taking shipping container architecture to the next level. Set to begin construction in 2018, the home is laid out in a starburst of containers, each oriented to maximize views, provide abundant natural light or to create privacy dependent on their location and use.
WHitaker exterior

© Whitaker Studios via ArchDaily

It is indeed a wonderful exercise in maximizing surface area, making impossible connections, creating unusable spaces. But the nice thing about shipping containers is that they can go anywhere in the world; so this building, which was actually originally designed as an office building for a site in Germany, can magically transfer to the desert. Because somebody saw a picture on the internet and said, “You know what would look great here?”

whitaker studio splashpage

Whitaker Studio/Screen capture

Now to be fair to James Whitaker, this is what he does for a living, making the unreal real. He explains on his website: “I'm a photographer and digital artist. I take photographs of people and buildings, and I use a computer to create photographs of things that don't exist. Like a skyscraper that hasn't been built yet or a toddler floating through space.”

Whitaker interior

© Whitaker Studios via ArchDaily

He is also an architect, and this building is very much like a toddler floating through space -- unlikely to happen, and an inappropriate place to put people.

details of container

© Whitaker Studios via ArchDaily

But these are such extraordinary renderings, with such detail, right down to the container corner castings, the uninsulated open floor structure, the uncomfortable hard plywood booth seating. Whitaker says, “Designing and image making are my yin and my yang. They're what I love doing.” But actually building them will be a real challenge.

Joshua tree plan

© Whitaker Studios via ArchDaily

Lots more images on ArchDaily