A Costa Rican Family Stays Connected in Three Shipping Container Homes
To give their adult children the independence they need, a couple in Costa Rica decided to build three tiny homes on the same Santa Ana property that holds the main house, which they’ve been living in for the last 20 years.
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The family, all of whom love and respect nature, wanted to expand their living quarters, so the children would have their own space and privacy.
Architecture firms Re Arquitectura and DAO collaborated to offer the family an affordable, eco-friendly solution in the form of the Franceschi Container Houses: three independent living units totaling 2,260 square feet, built from used, 40-foot-high shipping containers placed side by side. Strategically positioned, the containers get the best quality of natural light and cross ventilation available on the site.
The three units share the same floor plan, and are raised upon concrete columns. This ensures that the construction impact on the terrain is minimal, and the soil beneath them can aerate and absorb rainwater as it did before.
The space between the ground and the floor of the house also helps to keep the interiors naturally cool and dry, thus saving on expenses that would otherwise be needed for insulation and waterproofing.
Each unit is split into two levels. On the first level are the kitchen, dining, and living areas, which connect to a backyard patio. On the second level, each of the houses has a bathroom and a bedroom that looks out to gorgeous views of hills and the Uruca river canyon to the south.
The architects managed their resources well, and made full use of all available local materials, wasting as little as possible during the building process.
They chose low-impact materials such as plantation woods and water-based paints and varnishes, installed solar heaters, and applied passive climate control strategies to circumvent the need for air conditioning.
For the sewage system, they used a double-stage septic tank that is equipped with a filter that treats all the wastewater before draining it back into the ground.
Because the units are small, the interiors were customized with mobile furniture in the living areas, and wall storage systems in the bedrooms. This creates spaces that are versatile and flexible enough to adapt to the adult children's future needs.
The wood and metal waste from the construction of the houses were saved and reused to make the furniture, lamps, doors and door handles, staircase handrails, bath accessories, planters, and hangers.
The result is a striking, modern, sustainable home system that encourages both independence and a strong sense of family.