The best shipping container homes from around the world

Think inside the box with these tricked-out shipping container homes

Do you have an inordinate amount of shipping containers? Are you trying figure out what to do with all them? In the unlikely event that the answer to this question is “yes,” you’ll be pleased to learn that they’re far more practical than you may have imagined. And if, as is more likely, the answer is “no,” then good news! You can grab yourself a decent-size shipping container for just over $1,500.

Shipping containers are flood- and fireproof, making them a great home-building material. Ranging in length from 20 to 30 feet, shipping containers are typically only used for 10 to 15 years, but they can last much longer. It is estimated that there are 24 million empty shipping containers in the world that will not be used for cargo again. But, as the saying goes, one man’s retired shipping container is another man’s crazy, high-end modular home. What? That’s not a saying? It should be. Without further ado, here are some of the raddest shipping container homes on the planet.

Bard College Media Lab

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Matthew Carbone

Location: Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

Design: MB Architecture

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this media lab at Bard College apparently was. The installers reportedly assembled the structure on site in a mere half a day, costing a total of about $200,000. The two-story structure emphasizes tranquility, with open spaces to work in, an unassuming black and white color palate, and plentiful windows to let in natural light and give students a view of the trees just outside. A large garage door opens up, granting access to the main room. While it’s not technically a house, MB Architecture’s site states that the same design could be outfitted with a kitchen and bathrooms to make a functional living space.

Seven Havens

shipping container homes
Budi Pradono Architects

Location: Lombok, Indonesia

Design: Budi Pradono Architects

The Clay House — or “Seven Havens,” as it has come to be known as — was constructed in the southwestern portion of the Lombok province, which is located just east of Bali. This bodacious box home is nestled on a set of concrete stilts, allowing the residence to sit just above the hillside for optimal views of the Selong Belanak. The container that creates the ceiling of the master bedroom is also set at a 60-degree tilt, giving the room a wedge shape that faces the bay. Budipradono Architects used a similar slanted design technique — albeit, a steeper one — when constructing another private residence in Indonesia known locally as “The Leaning House of Jakarta.”

Devil’s Corner

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Brown Brothers

Location: Apslawn, Tasmania

Design: Cumulus Studio

The design firm Cumulus Studio created this property for the Brown Brothers winery. The premises is comprised of three main sections, each of which provides guests with panoramic views of Moulting Lagoon, Freycinet Peninsula, and the Devil’s Corner vineyard. A series of timber-clad shipping containers surround an open-air terrace, where guests can imbibe the choicest of Tasmanian quaffs.

Ccasa Hostel

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Ccasa Hostel

Location: Nha Trang, Vietnam

Design: TAK Architects

Vietnamese studio TAK Architects created this vibrant hostel near the center of Nha Trang. Within the walls of the property, a stack of polished shipping containers have been transformed into minimally furnished dormitories for wayfarers passing through southeast Asia. The pergola surrounding the individual containers helps to shield the units from direct sunlight during warmer months. The property is also just 600 feet from the beach, offering guests sweet, sandy solitude if they need to take a break from the bustling backpackers retreat.

Student housing project

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Urban Rigger

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Design: Urban Rigger and Bjarke Ingels

Urban Rigger worked with architecture firm Bjarke Ingels to create this floating student housing project in Copenhagen. The main objective was to create affordable modular housing within the urban harbors. Individuals can rent a unit at Urban Rigger for just $600 per month, which is a steal considering Copenhagen is notoriously one of the most expensive cities on Earth. The homes include a private bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen with shared living spaces. The outside of the facility features community gardens, kayak landings, and bathing platforms. Canadian construction firm Honomobo is also creating modular, stackable housing using shipping containers.

Ecuadorian Container Home

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Lorena Darquea Schettini/Daniel Moreno & Sebastián Calero Architects

Location: Pichincha, Ecuador

Design: Daniel Moreno Flores and Sebastian Calero

Designed by architecture powerhouse couple Daniel Moreno Flores and Sebastian Calero, this shipping container home is situated in central Ecuador. The team used a total of seven 20-foot shipping containers and one 40-foot container to build the sprawling abode. The home, which is made of a host of individual modules, can be quickly disassembled and transported for a sudden change of scenery.

Colorado Shipping Container Home

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Tomecek Studio

Location: Nederland, Colorado

Design: Studio H:T

Although not comprised entirely of shipping containers — the lavish home only utilizes two — Studio H:T’s latest venture in the realm of shipping container homes was nothing short of gorgeous. The firm built the sustainable home on an existing rock outcropping in the Colorado wilderness, allowing the occupants to capitalize on the distant ridge views surrounding them. The containers straddle the home’s central living space, functioning as bedrooms and a kitchen, as well as a bath, office, and laundry room. The upper floor even features a bed that slides on tracks for an outdoor experience without the tent.

Containers of Hope

Containers of hope
Studio Saxe

Location: San Jose, Costa Rica

Design: Benjamin Garcia Saxe

This inexpensive home was created by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe for only $40,000. It’s made with two 40-foot shipping containers. Saxe created this for a couple with the intent of building a rural home that wouldn’t put them in debt. The slanted roof lets the sunlight in but also lets the hot air escape. It is located 20 minutes outside the capital of Costa Rica, but you can’t tell from the pictures that it is anywhere near a city of roughly two million people.

Crossbox House

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CG Architectes

Location: Pont-Péan, France

Design: CG Architectes

This house has three bedrooms, a kitchen, a large living room, and two bathrooms. The house was built using two merged crates on each floor. We don’t know how much this project cost, but we do know that the architects built it with the intention of displaying a low-cost alternative to most standard homes in the area. It is clear that design was important, considering the way the house was built as if to defy gravity.

Container Guest House

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Jim Poteet

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Design: Jim Poteet

A mere 320 feet of space is not much to work with, unless you’re creating a minimalist guest house in your backyard. The private residence, constructed with the help of local Texas architect Jim Poteet, adds a touch of luxury to a recycled shipping container measuring a narrow 8 feet wide and 40 feet long. The foundation of the structure utilizes a bevy of recycled telephone poles, while the flooring and wall coverings feature repurposed bamboo. The roof of the navy-blue crate even offers garden space — making it more than just a place for storing tools and housing people passing through.

The Caterpillar House

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Sebastián Irarrázaval

Location: Santiago, Chile

Design: Sebastián Irarrázaval

This shipping container home is located just outside of a large city as well, on a hillside outside of Santiago, Chile. It is built from 12 containers. The design was chosen by the family for its quick build time on a reasonable budget. The facade is ventilated and arranged in a way that makes electronic cooling unnecessary, using the natural, cool mountain air as a passive cooling system.

Container House

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Ecocosa Design Studio

Location: Flagstaff, Arizona

Design: Ecosa Design Studio

Adorned with a rooftop terrace and with a construction time just under a year, Ecosa Design Studio’s desert home is one of the few residences on our list representing a student-designer collaboration. The mint-green dwelling sports an industrial design, with concrete floors and a walnut finish, along with tools for collecting solar power and harvesting rainwater. A slew of dual-pane aluminum windows provide ample natural light throughout the year, but it’s the home’s five separate decks that give it astonishing views of the surrounding San Francisco Peaks.

Summer Residence

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Designboom

Location: Sardinia, Italy

Design: Designboom

Located on the island of Sardinia, Summer Residence was set up as an office and living space by designers at Designboom, who used three interconnected shipping containers and did most of the work themselves. The setup contains an outdoor kitchen and dining area covered with a straw canopy and two live/work container spaces. Each space has sliding glass doors, and one of the containers is outfitted with a bathroom, including a toilet and shower. The designers also included two outdoor courtyards and a satellite connection.

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