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SG Blocks Rolling Out Safe, Green Building System

Fort Bragg Container Home

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the phenomenon of container housing with David Cross, Chief Business Development Officer for SG Blocks LLC.  SG Blocks, short for Safe and Green, is a sustainable building system made from containers.  Going beyond the trendy fascination with exposed container architecture design–modern, industrial, and extremely good looking, in my opinion, SG Blocks intends to use containers as a fundamental component to building construction.  A container home doesn’t necessarily have to look like a container home (that’s up to you), but it can have all the same advantages: comfortable, strong, green, and affordable.   

The home you see above is an example of container modules being used on a traditional home as a framing system.  From the outside or inside, you’re not going to know that it was built with container modules.  The cost of framing a home built with SG Blocks is about $22-30 psf, which is roughly comparable to other forms of construction.  BUT did you know that recycling containers into steel beams takes nearly 8,000 kW of energy at a cost of roughly $800?  Rather, it takes about 400 kW of energy to turn containers into a home.  At about 5% of the energy when compared to straight recycling, that’s not bad.  And right now, SG Blocks is in the process of rolling out their building system nationally.

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PieceHomes Set to Premiere at Dwell on Design

Container House by PieceHomes

PieceHomes is a new modern prefab offering by Davis Studio Architecture + Design, set to debut in about a week at Dwell on Design.  Notice the interesting tagline — "pH: for a balanced home."  Nice.  PieceHomes plans to distinguish itself among the pack by providing custom and standardized, modern, modular architecture that is green and affordable.  With a variety of home designs taking shape, pieceHomes will be available this fall and manufactured by XtremeHomes.  Take a gander at the website and some of the home designs.  I’m particularly intrigued by the Container House, 3×4, and Solar Passage (all pictured in this post).  Like many prefabs, pieceHomes also will be designed to incorporate solar panels, green roofs, and other environmental features that fit home site conditions.  It’ll be nice to see some of these renderings in real life. 

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Instant Built House, Rapid Deployment Shelter

IBH Opening 5/31/2007

I like the idea of using things that we already have to create things that we need — which is probably why the concept of container housing is so intriguing.  In Las Vegas, Arnie Stalk, in conjunction with METRO Development Group and SHARE, has created an actual prototype of the Instant Built House.  IBH is a rapid deployment shelter made from standardized, recycled ISO modules — containers that can be transported via ocean cargo ships, railroad "piggy-back" trains, semi-trucks, helicopter airlift operations, and civilian and military jumbo air cargo transports.  In other words, an IBH can be shipped practically anywhere in the world in a moment’s notice. 

IBH Shelters are built with the following:  fully insulated walls, photovoltaic solar array for power, wind-ventilated scoops and skylights, roof-mounted HVAC units, satellite cable and internet, and internal waste collector and water recycling systems.  IBH models are secured on concrete caisson footings, foundations, and slabs.  I’m surprised they used Longhorn colors to paint it, but we’ll let that slide. :)

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Group 41, "CONTAIN Your Enthusiasm"

Hybrid_seattle

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:

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S2: LOT-EK Slanting Container Building – 87 Lafayette Tower

Perceptual_contrast_slant
Solar_slant

I’m not sure whether this is already in the works or whether this is just a proposal, but I thought it was creative and interesting enough to talk about.  From the pictures above, you’ll notice a few things.  Its slanting shape.  The protruding containers.  The juxtaposition of ultra-modern and historical landmark neighbors.  The developer of the NYC Chinatown project, Mr. Woo of Young Woo & Associates, was interested in LOT-EK‘s design and considered the use of large, metal shipping containers in residential construction "fascinating" and "environmentally friendly."  You’ll also notice from the renderings that the developer plans to have an array of solar panels on the roof. 

To make it work, the slant begins on the third floor of the south end and the six floor of the north end.  What that does is create some unusable square footage for the occupants on the south face (depending on the acuteness of the angle), with a pretty cool view for the occupant on the north face.  Those on the north slant will have the benefit of peering over the ledge without having to worry about falling in.  Also, I’d be interested in seeing a sun model of this to see how the building design takes on natural lighting for the occupants.  All in all, it’s cool to see innovative building designs.  Someone needs to push the entrepreneurial envelope, right?  Via Lloyd of Treehugger

Extra Links:
+LOT-EK Container Housing Coming to New York [Treehugger]
+Leaning Tower of 87 Lafayette Explodes Our Brains [Curbed]
+Slanted Tower Studied Next to Landmark Firehouse [CityRealty]
+New Tower on Lafayette Street? [Wired-NY]

Redondo Beach House, a Modern Container Dwelling [Video]

Redondo Beach House

If you’ve ever been to a port terminal, you’ve seen the mass quantities of shipping containers used to transport goods all over the world.  With the trade imbalance–US importing more than exporting, the containers that aren’t returned to their origin, waste away here in the US.  But there are a few creative architects such as Adam Kalkin, Jennifer Siegal, and Peter DeMaria (his home pictured above and below), who are using these containers as the basic structure for custom built homes.  The fact is, materials such as steel and wood cost big-time money and perpetually increase in price due to world demand; according to the video, Anna + Sven Pirkl are getting their 3,500 square foot home built at $125 square foot (a pittance for that area’s custom build price that ballparks at +$250 square foot). 

The LA Times also wrote an article about what the family is going to do with the home (think:  zip line + climbing wall). 

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