By rethinking comfort, a couple built their dream home on a shoestring budget.
Gabriela Calvo and Marca Peralta had a dream: to live debt-free on their property near San Jose, Costa Rica, surrounded by their horses and the natural landscape. The couple considered building with shipping containers—but were terrified of living inside a tin can. They presented their conundrum to architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe, who cleverly transformed two austere, 40-foot-long metal boxes into a home. The strikingly simple residence, named Containers of Hope, covers 1,075 square feet and cost just $40,000—less than the price of social housing provided for the country’s poorest residents. In developing the design, Saxe focused on rethinking comfort in a compact space. “The key factor was cost, which allowed them to take the risk without putting everything on the line,” Saxe says. “Once they realized size wasn’t what gave them happiness—location was more important—it was easy to move forward.” Today, due to the rising cost of shipping containers in Costa Rica, Saxe estimates such a project would be about 20 percent more cost-effective than traditional methods.