King County in Washington has about 26,000 acres of parks and open spaces with trails, trees, and streams. To help people stay overnight in these areas, the county held a design competition — Little Footprint, Big Forest — to create an overnight structure from a surplus, reclaimed, 20-foot shipping container. The winning design was just announced and it comes from none other than HyBrid Architecture, the firm behind the cargo container-based Sunset Idea House 2011.
KitHAUS makes kit structures like this one with a bolt-together aluminum frame and SIPs floors, walls, and ceiling. With 117 square feet, the kitHAUS K3 is being used on a Shea Homes project in San Diego as a leasing office, though it could easily be used elsewhere as an artist studio or home office. A Halcyon model mini-split from Fujitsu cools the space, which costs about $40k with decks and accessories (but not the mini-split).
Project Frog, a start-up that designs and builds prefabricated sustainable buildings, recently announced a $22 million investment round led by GE, signaling the multinational company is bullish on not just environmental responsibility but innovative construction methods, too. As part of the relationship, GE will complete a Project Frog building at GE’s Crotonville Learning Center in Ossining, New York by the end of 2011.
The University of Tennessee recently opened the New Norris House, a 21st-century home that revisits the old Norris community project. As background, during the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority built a model community as part of a water works project in Tennessee. According to the New Norris House site, the old Norris homes were innovative and included electricity and heating systems for the first time in the region.
Speaking of the pros and cons of cargo container construction, web-based design magazine designboom has been working on a DIY-style, live-work container structure on Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy. The “container summer residence” is made with three containers — two live-work units and one bathroom unit with a toilet and shower. Designboom set these directly on the pavement, removed the rust, contracted out the plumbing and electrical, and insulated each ISBU with SuperTherm ceramic paint.
Housefish, a modular furniture company based in Denver, Colorado, conceived a new shelf design with inspiration from a beehive. Called Hex Modular Shelving, each shelf is made with custom aluminum extrusions that are light, strong, and hexagonal. The extrusions are then paired with FSC-certified, zero-VOC finish, maple plywood boards to create a strong and contemporary piece of furniture.