Shipping container homes are a marvel of modern-day architecture. Can anything be more sustainable than recycling an entire shipping container? It’s not a new idea, but many creative designers and studios have taken it to the next step.
These are becoming increasingly popular with those who want out of the box solutions for their home, which is ironic because it’s just a metal box. You can hire studios and architects to do the job for you. All you need is a shipping container, some land, and of course, money.
One big advantage of using a shipping container in a home is that it reduces the construction time significantly. If you keep things really basic like an RV home, you could be looking at a complete home in under a month. People have made container homes faster than that.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, these 20 best shipping container homes will have you gasping:
20 Best Shipping Container Homes
1. Grillagh Water, Ireland, Patrick Bradley Architects
The outbacks of the Irish countryside are probably the last place you would think of finding a contemporary-design shipping container home. Situated in Cavan, Ireland, the Grillagh Water House gets its name from the nearby Grillagh River. This is the first-ever container home in the country, completed by Patrick Bradley Architects.
The home comprises four 45-foot shipping containers, placed in a manner that creates two cantilevers. There are plenty of glass windows and doors to take in all the pastoral views of the surroundings. The containers extend into dark grey metals that look like a sculpture.
The entry into the home is on the first floor, which leads to an open-plan living area. There are two balconies as well, one on the west side and the other on the south. The total area of the Grillagh Water House comes to 1,236 sq. ft.
Containing three bedrooms, this container home offers quite a lot of space than would imagine. One of the bedrooms is behind the entrance gallery, not quite visible at first.
2. Container Cabin in the Catskills, New York, Nowhere Studios
Many container architectures around the world are not homes but hotels. One such structure is present in Saugerties in upstate New York. The container cabin in the Catskills Mountain is a nice getaway experience. You can find it on Airbnb and enjoy both a container living and the woods.
This is basically a 20-foot shipping container on a 20-acre land. The place is well-equipped with amenities that are essential, but also, to some extent, luxurious. We’re talking woodstove, kitchen, writing desk, sofa, and even a hammock.
It has low-energy windows and a glass door, so the inside temperature does not get that bad in those frigid winter days. Also, all of the exposed steel surfaces are lined with spray foam insulation, which helps regulate the temperature inside the cabin.
Porter and Sara Fox of Nowhere Studios, collaborated with a Brooklyn-based Cargotecture company called Contanium. Something like this could only originate in Brooklyn.
3. Seven Havens, Indonesia, Budi Prodono Architects
This shipping container home is named The Clay but is more popular as Seven Havens. It’s located on the island of Lombok in Indonesia, just east of the touristy Bali. Sitting on concrete stilts, the Seven Havens offers some spectacular views of Selong Belanak.
This is yet another shipping container hotel, but one that is quite luxurious. The name Seven Haven comes from the fact that each suite in this structure is called a haven. Each suite, or haven for that matter, is quite unique.
The master bedroom, however, has a container sitting at a 60-degree angle at the ceiling. This slanting technique seems to be a signature of Budi Prodono Architects, who also designed the famous Leaning House of Jakarta. It seems like the container is almost slipping away from the top, which makes it all the more interesting.
4. Devil’s Corner, Tasmania, Cumulus Studio
One of the most architecturally unique container homes is located in the land down under. Cumulus Studio designed the Devil’s Corner in Apslawn, Tasmania, for the Brown Brothers Winery. Part of the views this three-section container home provides is the Devil’s Corner’s vineyard, Moulting Lagoon, and Freycinet Peninsula.
The highlight of this structure is the shipping containers covered with loose timber. It’s a homage to the landscape and rural farming present in the area. The Cellar Door and Lookout is also where you can find the food market to taste some Tasmanian food.
The three sections are named the Sky, the Horizon, and the Tower. The last one stands vertically, offering some of the best views, including the bay. It’s no surprise that this shipping container project won the 2016 Tasmanian Architecture Awards.
5. Bard College Media Lab, New York, MB Architecture
While most shipping container homes built by architects are quite artistic, this one is rather simple and what you would expect a shipping container home to be like. That is not to say that it’s uninteresting. What makes it different is that it was built in a single day.
Part of the Bard College Campus, this container structure houses the media lab for the college. The architecture company completed this project in just one day, costing $200,000. That’s not bad for a container architecture expanding over two stories.
The color theme is pretty basic, back to the black and whites. The interior is a lab, so it’s quite different from what a home would look like. However, the company claims the two-story structure can be repurposed as a home with a kitchen and bathroom.
There are quite a lot of glass windows that let in plentiful natural light for a small space. Also, the views are nice as the structure is surrounded by trees that give you all four seasons throughout the year.
6. Stacked Shipping Container Home, Spain, James & Mau Arquitectura
Stacking one shipping container over another is becoming quite a norm for these box homes. You’ll find this home in El Tiemblo, in Avila, Spain. Built using four 40-foot shipping containers, the total area of this structure is 2,000 sq. ft.
This was completed back in 2010 but continues to maintain its charm and form, which goes to show that container homes are built to last. As there are two stories in this home, the kitchen and bedrooms are spacious. The living room features floor to ceiling windows that serve as a functional element, as well as design.
The second floor houses the master bedroom, which also has a closet and ensuite bedroom. The architecture firm has cleverly scaled vertically rather than horizontally to use more space for each living space.
On the outside, there is not any camouflage design to divert the attention from the container. You can very clearly see the containers. The interior, on the other hand, is a great contrast to the simplicity of the containers. The inside space has a modern and cozy decor that could be considered high-end.
7. Student Housing Project, Denmark, Urban Rigger and Bjarke Ingels
Given the skyrocketing price of real estate in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, container homes would make a lot of sense. However, this floating container home is not an alternative to costly housing, but an architectural challenge in its own right.
The Student Housing Project was built by Urban Rigger to provide affordable housing to students. The container homes provide shared living space with private bedrooms, just like an apartment or a dormitory.
The structure lies on the harbor, which gives it the serene views of the water. On the other side, there are quite a few amenities part of the container home. This includes bathing platforms, community gardens, and kayak landings.
The containers are stacked on each other, forming an equilateral triangle. The size of this housing project is quite big, coming at 7,319 sq. ft. This is a buoyant container home and serves as a model for other such projects on harbor cities.
8. Colorado Shipping Container Home, Colorado, Studio H:T
The Colorado Shipping Container Home does not look like a shipping container home at first, and that’s because it’s not entirely a shipping container. However, that does not change the fact that it’s quite amazing. It uses two containers that overlook the beautiful Colorado landscape.
What makes this even more spectacular is that it’s built on an existing rock cropping. So as it sits among the rocks, it’s quite a sight to see. It features a more central living space with the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and office all rounding the space.
The top story features a bed that you can literally use to gaze at the stars. The bed slides on tracks without any tent so you can experience the sky and the outdoors as it is. This structure has won the AIA Colorado Citation Award.
9. Container Guest House, Texas, Jim Poteet
The Container Guest House in San Antonio, Texas, is by far the most adorable little container home for the guests. Container homes usually are small, but this one is just 320 sq. ft. That is not a lot of space, but architect Jim Poteet managed to whip out an aesthetically pleasing structure and decor.
This is part of a private residence, used as a small guest house. In terms of recycling, it’s way ahead of other container homes as it uses a bevy of recycled telephone poles for foundation and repurposed bamboo for flooring.
The architect used the roof of the container to create a garden, which is such an intelligent move. The cascading green color from the plant is a striking contrast with the navy blue of the container.
The whole container is just one room, decorated with colorful furniture and decor. There’s a small, brightly lit porch as well if the guests want to sit outside. This design is a great model for using lots and large backyards to create an extra room or living space.
10. The Caterpillar House, Chile, Sebastian Irarazzaval
Built on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, the Caterpillar House is made of 12 shipping containers lined on a hill. The design was built fairly quickly and on a humble budget that the residents could afford.
The best feature of this large container home is how it ventilates air. The open facade of the containers allows wind to readily come in, eliminating the need for air conditioning. This is one of the biggest benefits of container homes that you can build them in places that utilize natural resources.
Utilizing six 40-foot containers and six 20-foot containers, the architect has managed to create a large living space, almost like a house. One of the 40-foot containers is an open roof container, built for the pool.
Surrounded by the Andes mountains, the home must have been a challenging structure to build. However, the challenge gets balanced by the views the mountains provide. This massive container home belongs to an art collector, which makes a lot of sense.
11. Ecuadorian Container Home, Ecuador, Daniel Moreno Flores and Sebastian Calero
You know the design is going to be flawless when it comes from the design maestros like Daniel Moreno Flores and Sebastian Calero. Located in Pichincha, Ecuador, this is yet another dreamy, larger than life container abode. They have used seven smaller 20-foot containers and one 40-foot container.
What makes this different from other such homes is that it can be broken down and transported. While not exactly a mobile home, it does pave the way for easy relocation. This is mainly because the house contains separate modules, so to speak, that come together to create a single living space.
This dismantlable nature of the house came from the owner, who is really into bikes. The design duo also refrained from polishing up the dents and damages of the container to maintain their integrity as containers. That gives it a rustic feel but only with the containers as the rest of the house is pretty clean and modern.
12. Containers of Hope, Costa Rica, Benjamin Garcia Saxe
Besides sustainability, the other theme behind container living is affordability. The Containers of Hope were built with a mere $40,000. Architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe used just two 40-foot containers placed parallel to each other. For a small budget, he created something stylish and functional.
The home features a slanted roof that helps in ventilating air and also uses natural sunlight to reduce energy consumption. Located outside the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, it’s free from all the noise and pollution of the big city.
Although parallel, one container is placed a bit ahead of the other, which creates an asymmetrical design. The middle section serves as the entrance to the house. The 1076 sq. ft. area provides all the essential parts a traditional home has.
13. Summer Residence, Italy, Designboom
The Summer Residence in Sardinia, Italy, is as Italian as it gets. The Designboom designers created a space that can function both as a home and an office. For a modern-day business person or artist, who works from home, this is the perfect place.
The Italian factor in this container design is the outdoor space, covered with a straw roof. The space provides a kitchen and dining area. The name Summer Residence is quite apt given the outdoorsy nature of the home.
The two well-decorated outdoor courtyards show how one can utilize the outside to make up for the limited floor space a container offers. The interior offers easy access and a roomy feel, thanks to the sliding glass doors,
This particular container home utilizes a lot of color in its decor, which goes perfectly with its tropical vibe. You have the blues, the yellows, the greens, all popping out, creating a beautiful space from something as dull as a metal box.
14. Six Oaks Shipping Container Residence, California, David Fenster
Surrounded by the greenery of San Jose, California, this container residence was created by David Fenster for Modulus. The idea behind the project was the maximum utilization of space with a minimal carbon footprint. That is exactly what the designer achieved with his smart design.
The house uses stacked containers with a four-feet clearance in between. In total, there are six shipping containers, in the instantly recognizable crimson color. It sits on top of an old emergency railway route.
Not only is the exterior of the house recycled but also the interior. Most of the furniture is made from recycled materials, while the staircase is made of recycled redwood. For flooring, recycled plywood was used. The whole house shows how extreme you can go with recycling and repurposing.
15. Zigloo Domestique, Canada, Keith Dewey
The stakes are high when you are designing the first container home for the second-largest country in the world. There is enough space for mansions on the land, so creating a small container home can be quite a challenge. However, Keith Dewey did quite well with the Zigloo.
Situated in Victoria, Canada, this is a container home complex, featuring eight 20-foot containers. The designer sold the place for a whopping $728,000. It must have the wow factor if it went for this much money.
Like many other such projects, the central theme was sustainability. As a result, the designer applied only sustainable materials on the inside too. The house has a properly fitted roof with a lot of ventilation. There are beautiful balconies with sliding glass doors that offer pretty views.
16. Container House, Arizona, Ecosa Design Studio
If there’s one place a container home would look great, it’s the vast desert of Arizona. This project from Ecosa Design Studio was a collaboration with a student. However, the design and execution would easily give world-famous architects a run for their money.
This house has a mint green color with a walnut finish and concrete floors. It also has solar panels and a reservoir for collecting rainwater. Picking up from the recycling DNA of the shipping containers, the house successfully pushes for sustainable living.
The windows are aluminum panels and bring in vast amounts of natural light. There are five decks in this house that give beautiful views of the San Francisco mountains. The house makes living in a desert so much cooler.
The project uses five 40-foot containers, giving the residents ample space. Also, there is a detached smaller 20-foot container that serves as an artist’s studio. Container living does not get better than this.
17. Manifesto House, Chile, James & Mau Arquitectura
Most container housing projects leave the containers visible. The Manifesto House is an exception because, at first glance, you will not be able to tell if it’s made of containers. The exterior of the containers has recycled wood pellets as lining.
The wooden exterior to the containers also serves as a protective layer. It provides shade in the summer and stops the metal of the container from absorbing heat. On the other side, the pellets are mobile and can move to allow sunlight when it’s winter.
The three containers making up the home have ample space between them. A cantilevered balcony on the top and solar panels make this home quite energy-efficient. This size of the house would roughly use the same amount of solar energy as one or two RVs. With an open-space design consisting of two patios, there’s a lot of natural wind and light.
The views from the house are spectacular, consisting of green and earthly shades. Located in Curacavi, Chile, the house covers 1,722 sq. ft of space.
18. Hybrid House, California, EcoTech
The Hybrid House in Shadow Mountain, California, was custom-built according to the needs of the owner. Although the house has an area of 2,300 sq. ft., it only has one bedroom. This is because the owner wanted a photo studio and a lot of storage space.
Along with the movable roof, the house made of five shipping containers also features a Must-Have water harvesting system, as the area is pretty dry and almost rainless. In terms of energy consumption, the house exceeds the standards of the state of California by 50%.
As it’s in the desert, the windows have solar shading to prevent overheating. The open layout allows proper air ventilation. To do all this, EcoTech spent $300,000, which is still modest given the real estate prices in populated cities of California.
As for the design and decor of the house, it sits pretty well with the desert backdrop. The containers have a white paint with a metal shade canopy. It looks like a home that belongs to someone who works in a creative field.
19. Flying Box Villa, France, 2A Design
This container home has three levels, set up with five metal containers. As it has more space, there’s every amenity a modern house should have. The ground level has a garage, a laundry room, and a beautiful entrance.
The first level has a glass facade that overlooks the garden and the street. On top of that, there’s a solarium to take in all the beautiful views of the small French village. By the looks of it, you cannot exactly tell it’s a container construction.
With immaculate lines and unconventional shape, this house moves away from how most container homes, let alone conventional homes are like. Rather than having more land, the designers scaled up vertically to provide more room.
This also has a lovely patio for whenever you want to enjoy the outdoors. As for the interior, the flooring is all wood, and the furniture is contemporary. All in all, it’s a great use of containers to build a house that does not look like it’s made of metal boxes.
20. PV14 House, Texas, Michael Gooden
The PV14 House in Dallas, Texas, shows that you can even go big with the containers. This massive house uses 14 containers, expanding to an area of 3,700 sq. ft. The position of the house allows it to take in the Texas sun and the surrounding town views.
Since it’s in a place where the sun can get scorching hot in summers, the house features several porches that keep the windows away from direct sun exposure. The floors are concrete, while the walls are all exposed steel from the containers.
The house has three bedrooms, covered balconies, and a massive roof deck. Even though it looks quite extravagant and is way larger than a typical container home, it cost under $500,000.
This particular house is located on a higher altitude than most of the city of Dallas. It’s just above the White Rock Lake, so the goal for designers was to utilize these beautiful views of the lake too. This height also allows it to be away from the noise and crowds.
Container Homes Taking Over the World
It’s amazing how each of the 20 best shipping container homes has something unique to it. If there’s anything you can absorb from these houses is that shipping containers are pretty diverse. You can do so much with them with little money and with piles of it as well.