A few years ago, the architecture firm Building Lab, completed the renovation of an old warehouse into a home and office. This new home is located adjacent to Linden Park at 999 43rd street in Oakland, CA in a rapidly developing new neighborhood. Privacy was a major concern of the owners, though they also did not want a home that was too isolated from the community.

The owner needed a live/work type of housing solution, meaning that the final structure had to be able to accommodate a residence, an office and the existing workshop. Before the renovation, the living and dining room also functioned as an office meeting space and lounge. Once the business took off, it became harder for the owner to separate the workday and home life. Working from home can quickly lead to working around the clock, and in this case the architects solved this problem by building a separate home office using a repurposed freezer-shipping container. This was only phase one of the renovation though, since the owner’s office remained in the main part of the residence.

dining living




closet space

One year later, they added a second retired shipping container, so that the owner could completely separate the office from the home, and gain enough space to keep his family life separate from his business. The addition of the second container also made it possible to form a layered inner courtyard on the property, which gives the inhabitants some privacy, without actually completely cutting them off from the rest of the neighborhood.



But using containers for the renovation is not the only sustainable part of it. In building the shipping container offices they used a number of reclaimed, non-toxic and sustainably sourced materials. They also fitted the office with a solar thermal system, which provides the hot water and hydronic heating for the entire home. Apart from the additions of the two containers, they also stayed within the bounds of the existing building envelope of the original warehouse.