Shipping Container House in Brooklyn Doesn't Make Sense, and I Don't Care

©. Melissa Breyer

LOT-EK is one of the true pioneers of shipping container architecture; ten years ago we called them "among the best of the small crew of architects working with shipping containers, which are rarely seen in the urban context."

Decks on Carroll House

© Melissa Breyer

We complain about shipping container architecture all the time on TreeHugger, usually prefaced with that tired phrase "jump the shark" and this 5000 square foot house they built in Brooklyn is just completely nuts. We say that shipping container architecture doesn't make sense, and this doesn't either. But there is something about this house and I like it.


© Melissa Breyer

Designboom describes it:

The shipping containers were stacked on top of each other, and cut diagonally along top and bottom to generate what the design team calls ‘a monolithic and private volume within the urban fabric’. Furthermore, the construction method optimizes material usage by recombining all leftovers generated by the diagonal cut.
shipping container cuts

© LOT-EK via Designboom

Indeed, there are some efficiencies, using the different parts of the wedges.

LOT-EK Carroll House from LOT-EK on Vimeo.

When you watch the video of this house being assembled, you can see that there is really almost nothing left of the shipping containers, sometimes a bit of wall and a bit of ceiling, and of course, the fancy iconic doors.

LOT-EK container house interior

© Danny Bright via Designboom

And that fireplace! like the rest of the house, designed for its image, rather than any form of efficiency.

Home theater setup

© Danny Bright via Designboom

To its credit, is one of the nicest home theater setups I have seen.

Carroll House Detail

© Melissa Breyer

All the usual points about the silliness of shipping container housing apply here. There is no structural efficiency, there is no economy, it is impossible to insulate, it is one giant thermal bridge, it proves how shipping containers are not the right size for habitation (since they are cut to pieces) and everything about it is just about "look at me, look what I can do." As a building, it is totally nuts.

Caroll house end

© Melissa Breyer

But wow, it's got drama. Like all of LOT-EK's container buildings, you can tell that there is an architect at work here. And it's interesting that the clients for this house have a bit of drama themselves, running popular Brooklyn restaurants that our Brooklyn-dwelling editor and photographer describes as a "total little empire that is almost too rustic-hipster-cool, but the quality is undeniable and they were there early so it doesn't feel painfully trendy."

Detail of house

© Melissa Breyer

That is actually the perfect description of this house: "almost too rustic-hipster-cool, but the quality is undeniable."

Lots more photos on Designboom.