To most people, an ocean container is just a big steel box that carries lots of stuff from one country to another. But the more creative thinkers out there can look at that same container and see the potential for so much more.
Take the architects at Lot-ek, for example. Designers from the New York City-based firm have devised a way to transform containers into comfortable and airy living spaces. Among other products, Lot-ek sells a Container Home Kit that makes use of surplus ISO containers to create sustainable homes. The kits include modified containers that come with electrical, plumbing, heating, and ventilation systems; insulation; fully furnished kitchens and baths; a ground-floor porch and second-floor terrace; and 8- by 8-foot picture windows. The company also sells modified containers that make handy temporary retail stores suitable for urban streets.
Containers as living and working spaces are becoming more popular from Australia to the Amazon. And although container homes are very economical, they're not just for developing countries or low-income buyers. Architect Adam Kalkin's Quik House, made from seven containers, is known for its quirky comfort, and a housing designer in Canada lives in a three-bedroom container home with a full basement, five balconies, and two baths.
Want to learn more? Nick Rosen's Nov. 2006 article, "Box homes around the globe," on the Web site Off-Grid (www.off-grid.net/2006/11/12/containerhomes) is informative and entertaining. For jaw-dropping, I-can't-believe-it's-acontainer photos, go to www.inhabitat.com and search for "shipping container." (Note: If you decide to buy one, we want a commission!)