From Harbour to Parlour: Upcycled Shipping Container Homes

By Diane Small

It’s a fact that billions of dollars are spent each year on mining iron ore and bauxite to create construction materials. The earth is harmed, carbon emissions rise, and all for naught, when you consider that homes can be built on the plethora of pre-existing materials that already exist on the planet.

For example: shipping containers. Sure, they may not look like much from the docks, but shipping containers can provide the foundation for some truly incredible homes. You can create everything from a small bungalow to expansive two-story dwellings depending on how you arrange the containers.

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Take this stunning house, for instance, which was created from raw foundations of mainly upcycled shipping containers. While the idea sounds very ‘crunchy’ and a little bit quirky, the result is nothing less than stunning sophistication. Designed by the  Arcgency  architecture firm, this house in China rests on three shipping containers, which can be found at most seaside ports in big cities around the world.

Indeed, given its status as one of the most important manufacturing hubs in the world, China’s ports are jam-packed with shipping containers. And since China also has one of the world’s highest populations, it stands to reason that recycling these containers into homes is a great idea.

From humble, industrial roots, this stunning, minimalist home now features reclaimed beech wood floors, high ceilings, plenty of natural light and simply painted walls to offer a spacious, modern family dwelling.

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“The truth is, shipping containers rarely go to waste,” says Arup architect Andrea Noni. “They’re normally made of metal, which can easily be recycled. But due to their strength and size, they often make for wonderful foundations for homes, and they’re also quite versatile, since they come in a variety of sizes.”

We’d like to think that with a little imagination, many industrial materials can enjoy a second life as the foundations for a larger project, like this shipping container home.

Photographs by  Jens Markus Lindhe.

Diane Small
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