There’s an architectural revolution taking place in Australia. And it involves a curious new building material. Yes, you’re looking at a house built almost entirely from shipping containers. This raw, industrial design is sweeping the country and making waves across the world. This shipping container home is a product of two worlds colliding. First, the architecture and design world, which has been heading towards minimal and industrial for some time. Secondly, the accountants’ world! These projects provide a cheap building alternative in a difficult economic period.
As you can see in the stunning images, the shipping container home is the perfect balance of form and function. They look fantastic, come in well under budget and provide all the practical aspects of a family home. We took a deeper look at this shipping container project in Brisbane and other, similar builds around the country. What we uncovered was a labour of love in every house. The architects and builders of these homes have found a real passion for this building material. The alternative route has drawn out inspiration and excitement.
Raw, industrial, but modern style
What is most striking about these homes is the marriage between raw materials and modern design. They have taken a shabby, almost ugly container and turned it into something artistic. Interior designers have followed a trend lately. They’ve matched earthy elements with clean, modern simplicity. And that’s where these designs are heading. It began with the rustic notion of exposed brickwork alongside metallic finishes. This contrast of old and new has worked for designers in the past, and it now works on the home as a whole.
There’s an element of refurbishment and regeneration that feels very organic here too. The art of taking something associated with rust and decay and breathing new life into it is tangible. Much like taking a rusting old car, and turning it into a powerful modern machine. There’s a sense of pride and life in every one of these projects. It’s so rare to see a material so far from its natural environment. It’s charming and inspiring.
“The biggest Lego bricks I could find!”
It’s also inherently playful. Builders and architects are the types of people that grew up playing with Lego. It’s taking large blocks and building a structure in a very childish way. The act of stacking containers on top of each other is playful and exciting. It draws designers and builders back into a childlike state of passion. It unlocks that excitement that makes you want to build things in the first place. It’s evident in some of the designs that exaggerate the mismatched composition of containers. This playfulness was evident from one shipping container pioneer, Matt Mooney. Speaking to Yahoo, he called the containers, “the biggest Lego bricks I could find!” He also said he thoroughly enjoyed the project, as many others have echoed.
In terms of design, the shipping container homes fit right into the current architectural trends. Thanks to their very nature, they produce sharp, angular houses. The models focus on the importance of defined, straight lines and box-shaped houses. Most are fitted with floor to ceiling windows, completing the stylish modern look. The chic industrial design and clear, simple minimalism is a match made in heaven.
We can all agree they look fantastic but are they practical? The simple answer is yes. Although some builders have reported difficulty sourcing the shipping containers, things are changing. Matt Mooney, who we mentioned before, talked of his difficulty in convincing companies to sell to him! Thanks to the increased popularity of these homes, sellers are now opening their arms to developers. Indeed some shipping container companies now actively promote them in this market. The bottom line is that shipping containers are now easier to get hold off. Perfect for forward thinking architects and builders.
Good for the environment, good for the bank balance!
Not only that, but they are wildly cheaper than their alternatives. Many builders reported a saving of up to 50% on the structural materials. The shipping containers can undercut the price of typical wood in a significant way. The reason for this is that they are almost always reclaimed materials. They are recycled and reused. Most of these shipping containers have experienced life out on the seas! They have been well used and rather than being left to rot, they are being put to good use. So, not only are they cheap and easy to get hold off, they’re environmentally friendly.
The green credentials of this build are particularly important here. The construction industry has come under fire for its approach to the environment. Mining for materials and the construction process itself does have an effect on the environment. They are taking positive steps, and many new buildings are pioneering green construction. However, rarely are buildings made from entirely found materials. It’s an interesting insight into the potential future of construction.
Strong as steel
There’s another practical point to mention here. Shipping containers are strong. Really strong! They’re made of steel, and built to withstand pressure and battering. If they can survive the raging seas, they can survive the blustery winds of Australia. Shipping container houses are sturdier than their wooden counterparts. It means that foundations needn’t be so deep or complex. The entire building process becomes more simple and manageable. Once erected, there is safety in strength.
The final question is whether this strange new concept is a worthy investment. Investors have looked to the property market for decades to produce stable income. Well, let’s take just one example from Brisbane. Todd and Diane Miller started their shipping container project with a budget of $400,000. It wasn’t enough to build the home they wanted from traditional materials, so they looked elsewhere. Just a few months after completing the build, they sold the house for a phenomenal $1.42 million. So, not only are they beautiful and practical, they’re a lucrative investment.
Architects and builders are always looking for new ways to push the boundaries. With shipping container homes, they may have tapped into a whole new way of thinking. We love it.