It does not take a housing crisis to realize the importance of cost in construction at home and abroad alike. A 40,000-dollar, two-shipping-container house that is not just livable but lovely is itself impressive, but has particular global appeal to those who cannot afford more. This cheap shipping container house takes cues from modernist architecture for a result that looks far more expensive than it really is.
“Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta dreamed of living in their fantastic property 20 minutes outside of the city of San Jose, Costa Rica; where they could be with their horses and enjoy the natural landscape. They made the very bold choice of exploring with me the possibility of creating a very inexpensive house made out of disregarded shipping containers that allowed them to be dept free and live the life they always dreamed of. It was important for me to provide them with the sunrise, the sunset, the spectacular views, and overall try and create a feeling of comfort and home.”
The core two containers are staggered along the East/West access, providing selective access to natural sunlight and natural cross-ventilation.
In the center, a raised and tilted scrap-metal roof angles up to catch additional indirect daylight and further facilitate passive cooling.
The entire structure is lofted on stilts – a subtle tribute to structural simplicity, regional climate and perhaps to the Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier era of traditional Modernism as well. Cheap modern houses are hard to find, but this is clearly a smart way to go about it.
The drawings are likewise unpretentious and straightforward renderings of uncomplicated spaces – neither minimalist nor over-designed. The result is something that (to some of us at least) is more attractive than prefab suburban mega-homes could hope to be, and certainly much cheaper to create.
“The final cost of the house (40,000USD) is lower than the cost of social housing provided for the poor in Costa Rica. Perhaps this project begins to expose the importance of design as a tool to provide beauty and comfort with a very low budget in the 21st century, whilst using creativity to not only redefine a scrap material such a disused shipping container, but perhaps to even show that there are viable, low cost, passive alternatives of temperature control to adapt to a very intense tropical climate.”
Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner