With their three children grown and retirement on the horizon, the couple that hired design duo Matthew Mcleod and Lisa Bovell of local firm McLeod Bovell were ready for a "simplified" and efficient home with reduced reliance on stairs.
"When we initially heard the design brief from the clients, the analogy of ‘the shipping container’ struck us as a good starting point for designing a small house that operated in a very efficient way, providing all of the main living and sleeping functions on one floor," explain Matt and Lisa of the Container House, a two-story dwelling envisioned as two volumes stacked perpendicular to each other.
"Although planning guidelines would have allowed for a slightly larger house on three floors, it was decided that a scheme with only two levels—though smaller in size overall—would create a house with more generous interior volumes and greater architectural possibility."
Created for aging in place, the 3,350-square-foot Container House organizes the primary living areas—including the master bedroom and bath—on the upper level. Two addition bedrooms, an office, and recreation room are located downstairs and can also be reached via an elevator. The garage is set at a split-level between the two floors to further minimize vertical movement inside the home.
"This strategy minimizes vertical travel within the house by eliminating one flight of stairs," explain the designers of their choice of a two-story design instead of one with three floors. "The impression is of a series of spaces which are expansive yet intimately connected horizontally and vertically."
The property’s steep slope and narrow width proved challenging when creating indoor/outdoor living spaces. Forced to stack rooms behind one another, the architects maintained sight-lines using level changes. For example, the living room is located behind, and a few steps above, the dining area, which is placed behind the sunken lounge.
Walls of operable glass, covered outdoor living areas, and cantilevered forms further blur the line between indoor and outdoor living.