Shipping Containers: 10 Recycled and Repurposed Houses

shipping container house Atelier Workshop

Remember Top of the Lake (think: Twin Peaks set in New Zealand)? In Jane Campion’s compelling drama, a group of women create a camp called Paradise, made from shipping containers set on the edge of the lake. We like the idea of a shipping container as vacation getaway–it’s mobile, inexpensive, and an example of creative reuse at its finest. We’ve rounded up our favorite houses (plus a swimming pool) made with shipping containers.

San Antonio, Texas

Above: A guest house/garden retreat/playhouse made from a repurposed steel shipping container by Jim Poteet of Poteet Architects in San Antonio, Texas. For more on the project, see our Q & A with Poteet in The Architect Is In: Container as Guest House.

Airbnb in California

Shipping container airbnb by Nicolas Boullosa via Flickr

Above: At Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, California a shipping container has been transformed into a tiny Airbnb rental space. Photograph by Nicolás Boullosa via Flickr.

Pop-Up Hotel

Above: A pop-up hotel called Sleeping Around travels the globe according to demand. The hotel uses containers from a 1950s stock steel crate; once settled in a location, the rooms can be set up and fully functional within five hours.

Swimming Pool

shipping container Modpools

Above: Each Modpool starts with a steel shipping container—but becomes much more than that, with a hot tub compartment, interior bench seating, and even a viewing window so you can see what’s going on underwater. For more, see Shipping Container Chic: Recycled Swimming Pools by Modpools.

Washington State

shipping container home hybrid architecture

Above: A few years ago, a county parks department in Washington state sponsored a contest that sounded like something Amy Poehler would dream up on Parks and Rec: Transform a surplus cargo container into a permanent campground cabin. And make it cozy. See more at Little Cargo Container in the Big Woods. Photograph courtesy of Cargotecture.

New Zealand

Above: A bach (meaning vacation cabin; it’s short for “bachelor pad”) in New Zealand was designed by Atelier Workshop. The container has built-in wood paneling, a foldout terrace, and bunk beds; all that and it’s meant to be mobile. For more, see A Shipping Container Transformed into the Ultimate Holiday House.

Toronto Spa Chic

Shipping Container Castor Design Sauna Box

Above: In 2005, Toronto-based design studio Castor created a wood-burning sauna made to fit inside a shipping container. For more, see Outbuilding of the Week: Sauna Box by Castor Design Studio.

Prefab Cottages

Above: Prefab houses from MEKA (Modular, Environmental, Kinetic, Assembly) made from a steel shipping container, cedar wood paneling, double glazed argon-filled windows, a bamboo interior, and slate bathroom; four different design options range from $40K to $135K.

Northern California

Sunset Ideas House shipping container 2011

Above: In 2011 HyBrid Architecture collaborated with Sunset Magazine to install the Nomade C192–a 192-square-foot container home. Photograph courtesy of Sunset.

Toronto Welcome Hut

shipping container welcome hut Levitt Goodman Architects

Above: Evergreen Brickworks, an environmental community center in Toronto, has a welcome hut made from a repurposed 20-square-foot shipping container that architect Levitt Goodman renovated and painted bright green. He installed a rainwater chain to direct excess water into a rain barrel on the side of the hut. (Intrigued by rainwater chains? Have a look at 10 Easy Pieces: Rain Chains.)

N.B.: For more creative uses of recycled shipping containers, see 10 Shops and Restaurants Made from Shipping Containers on Remodelista.


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