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All About Shipping Containers

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Self-Contained

Having purchased a 3.5-acre plot of land in Topanga, California, with a very rustic, 750-square-foot cabin on it several years ago, architect Christof Jantzen found himself in need of a fairly quick, low-cost house expansion for his family (wife Lauryn and three young sons). Jantzen, principal of the Venice, California, office of the firm Behnisch Architekten, soon came upon the idea that more space could be achieved by redesigning a series of recycled and modified shipping containers, which would drastically reduce the typical time-consuming process of a traditional remodel.

“Building my own house made me realize that this was doable,” says Jantzen. “Most of the prefab structures on the market are very expensive, so I tried developing these container structures that would bring the cost margin of prefab down, which I think should happen.” At a cost of around $100 to $150 per square foot, the structures can be customized, stacked and combined into one of six Jantzen designs ranging between 320 and 2,400 square feet. With builder Eric Engheben of 44 West Construction, Jantzen has completed, among other designs, a poolhouse in Brentwood, California, and is in the permit stage on a 2,400-square-foot, 18-container atrium house in Topanga.
 

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The Shipping Muse

Shipping containers are ubiquitous in Houston, though unlike the four that make up this new home, they're usually filled with foreign goods rather than flourishing lives.

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An 'Epic' Container Co-op

The good folks at Epic Software are building a video production studio out of old shipping containers just outside of Houston, Texas. They're also dutifully documenting the Creative Co-op's construction process from permitting to pouring the foundation on their blog. Epic's shipping container saga has humble beginnings: The design was initially developed using Google Sketchup and Vic Cherubini—the man at the helm of Epic—found his architect by posting an ad on Craigslist. Their overarching plan has been to use upcycled, recycled, and sustainable materials wherever possible. Vic answered a few of our burning questions, telling about the difficult and rewarding aspects of the project, and why sometimes the best design tools are free.

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Five Inspirational Shipping Container Homes

Reclaimed shipping containers are ideal nesting spots for the residents of these five homes. Whether lured by the relatively inexpensive costs, ready supply, or aesthetic charm of containers, the residents applied their own perspective on how to reclaim and adapt these industrial castoffs. Click though our slideshow to see more.

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