Two-Container Backyard Office in Oakland

In 2005, Stephen Shoup, founder of design-build firm building LAB inc., bought a furniture and woodcarving building to convert it into a live-work space.  But Shoup’s firm outgrew the space — and Shoup went from singlehood to fatherhood — so he concocted a plan to create more room in the backyard.  He fashioned a modern, green office space from a retired freezer and a corrugated shipping container unit set in an L-shape.

bL Office is covered in cement-board panels by CertainTeed and reclaimed redwood.  Beneath that is an exterior coat of insulation.  Shoup filled the corrugated sides with batt insulation and covered that with rigid insulation with a radiant barrier.

On the inside, bL Office has a drain back water-based radiant heating system connected to a 200-gallon holding tank and two 4’x8′ solar thermal panels.  The floor is cork and the walls have reclaimed fir and Homasote panels.

The large window was salvaged from a sliding door and the door was acquired at a salvage yard.  Shoup fashioned an interior pocket door to save space and the framing is used as a pinup board for building Lab projects.  The lights are all fluorescent.

Some people think it’s more affordable to build with shipping containers (as opposed to sticks, SIPs, modules, panels, etc.), but that’s generally not the case.  Shoup told me he sees other benefits such as reclaiming old containers and saving concrete and materials with a pier foundation.

Plus, shipping container design engages the creative process and leads to a lot of healthy conversation about adaptive reuse.

In terms of costs, Shoup did a lot of the work himself and used salvaged materials, so he was able to economize the design and build of this home office.  He told me he estimates that it cost about $150 per square foot to complete.

Credits: Stephen Shoup, building LAB inc.

  • Hotels In Travel

    Not bad office, must to have some green award too 😉

  • geoffrey fulton

    With 6 years of intense experience in shipping container architecture, you can be assured that there are substantial savings by using shipping containers for most types of buildings, BUT it won’t happen if your intention is to use them just as framing and then cladding them inside and out like a conventional building. But you still get a benefit like they won’t blow a way in a tornado and they can be designed to withstand a tsunami. Only have to look at some newspaper photos of containers that have been tossed around in Japan yet nearly all of them have not a dent in them, as against most residences ended up piles of smashed timber and other materials. We have many examples of economical buildings on

  • Sliding Patio Door

    This is cool! And so interested! Are u have more posts like this? Plese tell me, thanks

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  • Storage Container Pro

    I love the mix of wood and metal here. Judging from the pictures, you really can’t tell that it’s a shipping container from the inside!

  • Anonymous

    Love ideas like this that push the potential of shipping container modifications.

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