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Studio H:T's off-grid Shipping Container House


April 12, 2012

Studio H:T's Shipping Container House is, unsurprisingly, a house made partially from shipping containers - and one that operates entirely off-grid

Studio H:T's Shipping Container House is, unsurprisingly, a house made partially from shipping containers - and one that operates entirely off-grid

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Studio H:T's Shipping Container House is, unsurprisingly, a house made from shipping containers - at least partially. But perhaps most impressive about the design is that it operates entirely off-grid.

First, let's clear up where the shipping containers fit in. The taller central section (which is clearly wedge-shaped in plan view) is not a container. Nor is it fashioned from parts of containers. No, this specially-constructed space houses the living and dining areas, with some storage space above.

But two containers flank this central living space on either side, and these make up the Shipping Container House's bedrooms and home office spaces - as well as the kitchen judging by the interior photography.

If the Shipping Container House does indeed constitute an entirely off-grid abode then this is the design's main achievement - incorporating passive (i.e. non-mechanized) design approaches such as passive cooling and green roofs, while the building's orientation and window design has attempted to minimize solar heat gain (the house is located in Colorado USA). It also appears some form of exterior cladding has been applied to the containers themselves in an additional effort to mitigate solar heating.

Power is provided by a pellet stove (so though the house may be off-grid, it isn't entirely self-sufficient) and on-site photovoltaic solar power.

Previously on Gizmag, and potentially of interest to the container-inclined, the Port-a-bach shipping container mobile home, APHIDoIDEA's 65-container education center plan, and Tsai Design's shipping container classroom.

Source: Studio H:T, via Arch Daily

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

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Martin Brook

I still can't figure out the idea of this so called Container house. Are they as easily transportable as the standard shipping containers ? A Big NO.

I was a very frequent visitor to Cologne, Germany. Some 20 years ago I saw a whole row of containers stacked, 2 high near a construction site. I did not pay any attention to them. Then one day I saw a construction worker coming out of one. I just stopped and stared at the whole row ow of these double stacked containers and realised that there were literally fully self contained living quarters for the construction workers which could literally be relocated at less than 5 minutes notice. Now that is what I would call Container house !


This is nothing new. People have been living in site delivered boxes for decades, at special locales to maximize the economy. They call them "Trailer Houses" and they are usually deployed in "Trailer Parks" Additionally, they are less than traditional "Trailer Houses" since they are usually not very child safe. Looks like a good way for high income vanity to transfer wealth to reasonable income workers who build these things. :-)

If you want really fast home deployment, get a Winnebago. They've been at it a very long time and know how to make a great mobile living environment. Resale value is good too. I'd hate to try to resell one of these houses mentioned in this article.

Rustin Haase

While it's interesting and helps drive the "alt housing frenzy". it's not really representative of "real" ISBU housing. I've been building ISBU homes for over three decades, and MOST of them are totally off-grid. This is something "less" and possibly something "more". YMMV.

In my projects, books and blogs, I often urge builders and families to think about the materials on hand and then combine them to cost effectively take advantage of their strengths. That's what Studio H:T has set their sights on.

It's a far cry from the "trailer parks" that some have referred to. The base unit, the ISBU, is a Corten Steel construct that is (by design) weather resistant, durable, scalable and robust. Trailers are nothing more than "cheaply made shelters waiting for failure". The differences are night and day.

What we're looking at here is a"hybrid" home, one that uses many diverse materials to build a strong, stable housing platform. And by pushing the envelope, it just makes us think about other ways to accomplish "housing"... hopefully affordably.

Renaissance Ronin

This is only novel because of there being a large central space which is not a container and the fact they have slapped a few solar panels on it.

Real container housing is something like pmshah mentioned earlier. To get some idea of what can be done you only have to look at the student housing in Amsterdam (I'm surprised that Gizmag hasn't mentioned them) http://www.tempohousing.com/projects/keetwonen.html


Ah! I lived in a "Coastel" accommodation barge made out of 2000 of these ISO containers welded together, down in the Falkland Isles in 1982 - very comfy and much better than a tent up on the airfield!!


The roof should be a rain water catchment and the solar should be mounted either on the ground or on a side wall depending upon the climate of the area. Either alternative location would enable easy adjustment of the PV tilt to maximize energy production throughout the year. Hard to understand why people cannot think things through but produce "half-baked" solutions like this.


Very beautiful. However, I see this a a novel home, not saving money by the looks of it, which is the whole original purpose of the idea of container homes. Beautifully designed, however-kudos!

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