After working from home for over a decade, Canadian architect Randy Bens found himself in need of a little more breathing room to accommodate the growth of his New Westminster–based architecture practice. Yet rather than rent an office, Randy decided to maintain his no-commute lifestyle by transforming an industrial shipping container into RBA Studio, a cozy 350-square-foot backyard office.
"The goal was to have the benefits of working from home while having an independent space for staff, a place to conduct meetings with clients and contractors, and to simply have more room to do our work," says Randy, who assessed various home-office options before deciding on cargotecture as the most cost-effective solution—not to mention the added benefits of modularity and mobility.
He then settled on a rugged 40-foot-long container—purchased from Richmond–based ContainerWest Manufacturing Ltd.—that was originally designed for mining operations. After trimming the container down to 28 feet, Randy spent six months transforming the industrial container into a livable workspace.
The cut end of the structure was sealed with a full-height, triple-glazed window, while vertical strips of yellow cedar were used to clad the exterior. "The container was fitted out in the supplier’s factory, and arrived on site 95-percent complete," notes Randy of the custom build, which was completed for a total cost of $200,000.
Inside, the office is lined in birch plywood and fitted out with a 19-foot-long bevel-edged desk made from Douglas Fir that comfortably accommodates three workstations.
The office also includes custom shelving installed above the workspaces; a bathroom with a space-saving, all-in-one sink and toilet by Caroma; a meeting desk for visiting clients and contractors; and a kitchenette with a sink, bar fridge, and microwave.
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"The reaction to the project has been universal in the neighborhood and from visitors—everyone loves it," Randy says.
"There is something about small buildings that most people find appealing. It has turned out to be a pleasant place to work."
Builder/ General Contractor: Container West
Structural Engineer: Ennova Engineering
Landscape Design Company: Dave Demers
Interior Design: randy bens architect
Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Stickle Cabinetry
Site Works: Kliewer Brothers Construction
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