Contemplation: Container Living

A few years ago (can’t remember when exactly, might have been 2005 or so) my family and I decided to go to the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne Vermont for the day.  I have been visiting the museum since I was just a wee little lad and so was quite excited to spend a pleasant New England summer day there.  Traditionally my favorite places to visit there had been The Lighthouse and the Circus Building and, of course, the wonderful steamboat TiconderogaWhile fully intending to visit these favored location on this day we also found ourselves looking at a strange, relatively new building exhibit, one which none of us had ever seen before. 

The strange building we visited that day is called The Kalkin House and is constructed out of trans-oceanic shipping containers and painted a bright orange color.  At the time my family and I visited the museum and saw the house, it had to be one of the strangest pieces of architectural design I had ever personally encountered; all modern and industrial looking and yet furnished as if a family was ready to move in and start living a relatively normal suburban life. 

Whatever it was about The Kalkin House, it has kind of stuck with me, and so I find myself thinking that perhaps someday I would like to own my own shipping container contstructed abode

Besides Shelburne Museum’s Kaklin House it seems like living places constructed out of former shipping containers are turning up in all sorts of places.  Back in March Yahoo! offered an article of twelve very interesting shipping contianer homes (note that one of the twelve, the Quik House, is also designed by Adam Kalkin, of The Kalkin House, although this one is slightly different form the house at The Shelburne Museum).  Yesterday The New York Times contained this article about a Texas escape-to home made of several shipping contianers (I love that the accompanying slide-show contains the quasi-philosophical contemplation of “Out here, I get back to reality … whatever reality is.” How appropriate coming from a person who lives in a building that was probably once used to transport diapers or potato chips or some other nonsense).  Oh, and back in May, while I was visiting friends in Boston, I did a bit of drinking at Puma City at the Fan Pier(I believe the subsequent stumbling around due to inebriation, brought on by said drinking, probably greatly contributed to my getting a torn ligament in my left foot and ending up on crutches just a few days later).

Wherever I encounter this shipping container architecture I find myself both fascinated and a bit confused.  It makes perfect sense to me to use the containers for something useful instead of just letting them sit around and rust, and yet there is something so strangely modern and industrial about them that I cannot really determine if I find them attractive or just grotesque.

Still considering that houses built out of used shipping containers tend to be relatively cheaper than other constructed living places as well as the fact that they can be made out of a large percentage (easily upward of 80% or so) of  recycled material, I can’t help but have a slight desire for building one.  I don’t know much about architectural design myself but I think it could be a lot of fun trying to design a comfortable living place using the containers as the main modular building materials (fortunately I have number of friends and a few relatives who are in the architectural business and might be able to provide me with some good advice on said building). 

I am currently in no position (or hurry really) to own my own house, but the more I think about the future prospect the more strangely appealing a shipping container home sounds to me. Again, for me, the cost and environmental factors (they can also be easily fitted with solar panels and water recycling systems — added $$ obviously) are a big sell.  Also appealing are the generally smaller living spaces.  That last point might seem strange to some people, as it seems that most people try to aim for greater space, but truth is I grew up in a very small house, and have, as such, developed a kind of preference for living in smaller spaces.

So who knows, maybe a few years down the road, after working on some serious money saving, I will start looking for some land for sale and begin to draw up some plans for my own shipping container home.  I could see that as being a rather fun and fulfilling project.  We’ll see how it goes, I’ll touch base in like five years or so.

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~ by Nathaniel on July 16, 2009.

2 Responses to “Contemplation: Container Living”

  1. I’ve been trying to convince Nicole to move into an RV, but she’s not down with it right now. Talk about your ultimate shipping container living.

    Your last point about smaller living spaces is what I find most intriguing. I am all about downsizing and minimizing. Do you think you could live in a single shipping container? Kind of like a studio container… How big are those things?

    If you’re interested in alternative living spaces, check out the yert:

    http://www.yurts.com/

    I am all about the yert.

    • Oh yeah, definitely all about the yurt too. I think ideally I’d like to own a lot of land, with like woods and space I could garden and then just have a tiny house made out of shipping containers and maybe a brew-yurt somewhere nearby. I think it would be pretty bad ass to have a brew-yurt to make beer in . . . maybe grow my own hops too.

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