It’s been a long time since I’ve written about container architecture, but there’s a good reason to do it today because I’ve received a tip on Joel Karr and Group 41.  This San Francisco-based architecture firm is issuing a innovative project challenge.  Here’s how it works:

Group 41 has issued a call to anyone, anywhere who owns land, offering to design a custom, high-end residential or commercial structure out of recycled shipping containers.  Providing up to $10,000 of FREE DESIGN SERVICES (subject to terms and conditions), Group 41 will design a futuristic structure that is at once sustainable, modern, and comfortable.  Group 41 will provide schematic and design development services at no cost. The firm will oversee the remainder of the project through construction documents, permitting/bidding, and construction phases, charging at cost for all services rendered.  However, architect Joel Karr will continue to donate his time free of charge for the duration of the project.

Contact Haily Zaki (323.966.4606 or haily.zaki at cliffordpr dot com) if you’re interested in getting together with Joel Karr on this project.  Below is from my discussion with Joel on the sustainability aspects of what he can do with a container project. 

Sustainability + Container Homes:
Typically, container floors are either plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and depending on what was shipped in the containers, they can have toxic content.  But this is no problem as the wood is removed + replaced and each container is fully cleaned out.  After that, the sky is the limit with respect to going green with the design.  Some green features include solar panels on the roof; concrete pads made with fly ash content; and interior finishings with cork floors, no-VOC paints, etc.  Although it doesn’t necessarily cost less to use containers, the use of derelict containers eliminates the need for new framing materials and the labor associated with framing.  What’s more, the building envelope becomes the "green message," with an endless array of possibilities.  It becomes the conversation.  Containers can be stacked into levels, stood on end for vertical spaces, and cut up for windows and detailing.  One can build commercial, residential, or retail.  You name it.  So I’m sitting here, trying to think of a parcel of land that I could wrap up and take him up on this challenge.  I can’t wait to see what comes of this. 

Good Links:
++Group 41 Inc. [Official Website]
++Other Container Architecture Posts