“For me as an architect, the challenge has always been how to give my clients the highest level of design while still keeping the projects on budget,” say Peter DeMaria, one of the country’s first architects to incorporate steel cargo containers into residential designs. His Redondo Beach container house, located in Southern California, won the American Institute of Architecture’s Excellence in Design Innovation Award in 2007.
House Tour: Redondo Beach Container House
Roughly half of the shipping containers that enter our ports never make it back to their points of origin. Not surprisingly, this growing glut of steel cargo containers has prompted more than a few creative minds to start thinking outside the box. In 2007, California architect Peter DeMaria transformed eight shipping containers into an award-winning family residence.
The Redondo Beach House1/8
The Construction Process2/8
In DeMaria’s hybrid design for the Redondo Beach container house, conventional stick-frame construction combines with eight repurposed steel shipping containers to form the two-story home. The containers can be retrofitted off-site, helping to reduce labor costs during installation.
Main Living Area3/8
To play up the industrial good looks of the containers, the homeowners chose not to cover-up the corrugated steel walls with siding or to replace the sturdy maritime wood floors that come standard in cargo boxes. In addition to the open main living area, the Redondo Beach container house sports four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths.
Thanks to simple passive solar techniques, like orienting the building to the sun and the prevailing breezes, the Redondo Beach container house remains cool and comfortable year-round. The swimming pool is also a re-purposed container.
The Container Details5/8
“Containers are widely available, inherently strong, and inexpensive when compared with more conventional building materials like steel and concrete,” says architect DeMaria. They’re also resistant to fire, mold, and termites, and made of heavy-gauge steel, a material meant to last centuries.
Innovative and Efficient6/8
For long-term energy savings, low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED lights, and Energy Star appliances were installed throughout the house. Stick-frame walls were insulated with UltraTouch, a recycled denim material, and the rooftops and walls of the containers were painted with a thick coat of white ceramic insulating paint originally developed by NASA.
Airplane Hangar Doors7/8
The Redondo Beach container house features a soaring 20-foot-high living room outfitted with glass-panel airplane hangar doors that fold out to create a seamless indoor-outdoor living space.
The Container House8/8
Most containers come in 20- and 40-foot models and generally cost between $1,650 and $3,000 each, depending on size and wear and tear. One-way containers that have only made one passage are usually in the best shape and demand a premium. For residential projects, DeMaria prefers High Cube models, which have a taller 9’6” ceiling.
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