Passively-cooled Caterpillar House built from shipping containers
July 3, 2013
The use of shipping containers in residential builds is quite popular nowadays, and with good reason: there are untold numbers of the waterproof and durable metal boxes available, so why not put a few to good use? With this in mind, the latest such dwelling to grab our attention is Casa Oruga, or Caterpillar House, by Chilean architect Sebastián Irarrázaval, which also features passive cooling.
Caterpillar House is located on a hillside just outside Chile's capital city Santiago, and boasts views of the Andes Mountains. The decision to use shipping containers as a primary building material derives from a desire to both speed up construction time, and reduce the overall cost of the project.
The property measures 350 sq m (3,800 sq ft), and comprises a total of 12 used shipping containers: five 40-foot (12-m) units, six 20-foot (6-m) units, and one open-top shipping container, which serves as a swimming pool.
Owing to the owner's wishes for Caterpillar House to blend in with the scenery as much as possible, some sections of the home slope with the hillside. This results in an unusual interior layout, with each of the children's rooms sporting an inclined nook, where the bed is placed. The shipping containers were also modified with multiple windows, skylights and adjoining pieces.
Rather than incorporate an energy-guzzling air conditioning unit, Caterpillar House features passive cooling. The home was arranged so as to make full use of the cool natural air coming down from the mountains, which passes through windows, doors, and a ventilated facade.
Perhaps the designers missed a trick here, as a greater degree of sustainable technology could have reduced the home's energy requirements down to a very modest level indeed. Regardless, it's certainly a desirable example of a shipping container-based home as it stands.
Caterpillar House was completed in 2012.