Shipping container-based Low Cost House provides home for family of seven


October 29, 2013

The home is located in a rural village in South Korea (Photo: Hwang Hyochel)

The home is located in a rural village in South Korea (Photo: Hwang Hyochel)

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We’re big fans of shipping container-based architecture here at Gizmag, and the latest such project to grab our attention comes via JYA-RCHITECTS and its Low Cost House. The budget-friendly dwelling features three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven.

Based in a small rural village in South Korea, the Low Cost House is the second in a series of inexpensive homes from JYA-RCHITECTS to be sponsored by the Korea Child Fund in a bid to improve the living conditions of low-income families.

Though the plot originally held a previous property, it was in such a state of disrepair – and so blighted by rats – that any notion of undertaking a renovation was sensibly jettisoned in favor of a fresh start.

With the project's cost of paramount concern, shipping containers were chosen to provide the main living quarters, but this resulted in unsatisfactory insulation from the elements and insufficient free space. Therefore, it was decided to build a larger barn-like surrounding structure around the containers, in a design that the architects refer to as a "house in a house."

The additional roof and exterior walls offer a new shared space between the containers, and allows easier movement for the family. Just as importantly, the container roofs were made available for use, and an attic space was also created.

Completed this year, the Low Cost House measures 101 sq m (1076 sq ft) in all, and its partly-translucent roof, bright colors, and sliding wall sections provide a dynamic and cheerful space to raise a family.

Source: JYA-RCHITECTS via Arch Daily

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

What a wonderful idea. This would work well in any country. How about the cost?


Keep up the great work on container home design/living! Very fascinated with the idea of container homes and really enjoy seeing any and all variations regarding cargo containers!! Thanks

Gabriel Mazzo

I don't see a price quoted anywhere, so the version built was probably subsidised by the designers ... And it still comes down to 3 containers in a shed!

The Skud

How do they heat all three living areas? Under the floor? What kind of wind and snow load will such an outer structure withstand? Why would the bathroom have two stools and sinks but no tub or shower. What climate is this built for? Where are the vents for the roof? How secure is it? How long is the outer structure designed to last? It really doesn't look that practical to me.


These are not great houses as cost way too much to heat or cool.

The size, etc limitations on design are large as one has to build a building around it to make it livable.

Since containers can't be easily heated or cooled their best use is underground or mounded up ground around, over them for a stable temp yr round making them livable.


Actually there is a cheap and easy way to heat them. Put decking on the floor, then nail in 1x2s with separations to allow for large-gauge electrical cord. Connect a good quality rheostat to it, plug in the rheostat---voila! An adjustable heating system with no dissipation through the metal of the container itself. A simple ceiling fan will keep heat circulated instead of collecting at the ceiling.

For cooling I recommend painting at least the top of the container white or cover it with solar panels or put a suspended white tarp over it like a tent. I-beam metal pylons embedded in the ground and attached to the bottom of the container will convect a lot of cold from the ground along with the ground itself.


Might this possibly be working to subsidize an unsustainable industry?

Rather than reinforcing the exploitation of currency differentials and labor and environmental disparities, might it be better to create local economies and eliminate the shipping container altogether?

Just a thought....


Like everything else these shipping containers have finite life and can survive only so much mishandling. I guess those condemned for scrapping can be "re-cycled" with such use and would reduce the overall cost.

BTW living quarters in shipping containers is almost an ancient idea. I have seen construction crew living in such accommodation, stacked at that, more than 40 years ago in Cologne Germany.


"...sliding wall sections..."? Isn't that sliding door? And who calls the structure "property"? Is that realtor speak? I consider a bare plot or acreage property.

This setup proves necessity is the mother of invention. Well done.

I doubt this could get approved in the U.S. "nanny state".

Don Duncan
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