It’s Your Average Off-Grid Shipping Container Home—Just Set on a Tall Metal Tower

When Mark Derenthal couldn’t find an architect or builder to take on his ambitious concept, he worked directly with an engineer to create the treetop retreat.

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Project Details:

Location: Epworth, Georgia

Designer: Mark Derenthal

Footprint: 300 square feet

Structural Engineer: Bill Seeber

From the Designer: "The purpose of River Forest Lookout was to create a structure where its occupants could immerse themselves in the natural beauty of a very remote off-grid location while enjoying the comforts of a traditional tiny home.

"This structure was to be very strong, be as fire resistant as possible and require as little long term exterior maintenance as possible. This was accomplished by utilizes repurposed shipping containers, a galvanized tower crane mast and tower components, metal interior framing, aluminum framed windows/trim and stainless steel ceilings. It was also to be well-insulated and provides running water, electricity, and heat year-round.

"Every detail of the Cab (container) design was done by me. In addition, I designed the rooftop deck/solar panel frames and the basket hoist system. My engineer designed the foundation, stair system, container platform, balcony and lower deck. There was no builder/general contractor on this project because I could not find someone willing to take it on. I also could not find an architect to work with me on this project because the ones I contacted wanted to take the project in completely different directions, as they envisioned it to be. Therefore, I found myself in a now familiar situation where "If it’s going to be, it’s up to me". I did spend what seemed to be endless hours on the phone and through emails with my structural engineer figuring out how to make my ideas, concepts and drawings into a safe, functional structure. A site plan and septic permit were required before a building permit was issued. There was a foundation inspection, electrical inspection and a final inspection. A certificate of occupancy has been issued."

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