Illy Prefabricated Transforming Modular House

Building a home is only half the battle – and the easier half when it comes to steep, remote or otherwise complex sites. Prefabrication or cargo container reuse can be a cost-saving solution in such cases, but can also lead to remarkable innovations in technology and style along the way, like Illy’s awesome transforming portable coffee shop. This gallery of 10 modular prefab houses and shipping container architecture shows just how creative you can get with small portable structures.

Conex Box Shipping Container House

Cheap Containers of Hope Shipping Container House

Made of two shipping containers and additional modular components, the Containers of Hope structure by Costa Rican architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe aims to provide affordable housing to people in need using sustainable strategies.

Expandable Tower Hamlets Cargo Container House

A company called Container City builds these prefab shipping container complexes that can be expanded on and on (at least until you reach the limits of your property and your city’s height restrictions.) Container City has made houses, hotels, shops, restaurants and more out of shipping containers, preserving their raw, rustic look.

Disguised Log Cabin Prefab Modular House

Prefab houses don’t have to be all modern, industrial and flashy. This modern log cabin looks like no more than a pile of firewood when the windows are all closed up, but it’s camouflaging a seriously cool music studio.

Organic Prefab Modular House

Prefab houses can be organic in shape, too. The Hus Ett is a tiny house in Sweden with a shape and color inspired by one of the Nordic country’s favorite foods – the herring. The sustainable woodland retreat is made of lightweight local materials.

Drop House by D3 Architects takes the highly portable, stackable shape of a shipping container house and translates it into something warmer and more organic with the use of beautiful slatted wood.

LoftCube Modern Rooftop Tiny House

The LoftCube can be dropped onto flat rooftops – like those on top of apartment buildings – by crane. Compact and self-contained, this modern modular prefab is stylish as all get-out and has a futuristic look, too.

Corten Steel Prefab Tiny House

Created for just $55,000, the Artist Bothy House is a remote, off-grid structure made of rust red Cor-ten steel designed to host artist residencies in the rural Scottish Highlands. It can be installed on site in less than a day, and contains a wood-burning stove. It can be self-sustaining or hooked up to standard electricity and water utilities.

Bunkie Glass Prefab House

The Bunkie is a tiny prefab house by 608 Design and BLDG Workshop that’s basically made of two-dimensional “slices” of a conventional gabled house shape framed in wood, put together to create a three-dimensional structure. Made using CNC milling technology, it can easily be expanded to any size you want just by adding more modules.