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 House

Redondo Beach House

“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.

DeMaria Design

The Construction Process

Building a Shipping Container Home

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.

DeMaria Designs

Main Living Area

Main Living Area

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.

DeMaria Designs

Backyard Views

Shipping Container Swimming Pool

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.

DeMaria Design

The Container Details

Shipping Container Home

“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.

DeMaria Design

Innovative and Efficient

Shipping Container House Exterior

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.

DeMaria Design

Airplane Hangar Doors

Airplane Hangar Doors

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.  

DeMaria Design

The Container House

Shipping Container House

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.

DeMaria Design

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