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MV5BMTg3MDY2MTU4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTA1MDQ1NA@@._V1._SX640_SY430_“A familiar thing seen in an unfamiliar context can become perceptually new as well as old”.  – Robert Venturi in Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture


Brooks + Scarpa’s (formerly Pugh + Scarpa) idea for a conference room in their 1998 remodel for the production studio, Reactor Films (Santa Monica, CA) was my introduction in using a shipping container as a functional interior space.  I was in school when I first saw this project and thought that it was pretty cool then

While there have been a number of design projects that have used shipping containers as a part or as whole living spaces, the Brooks + Scarpa project remains one of my favorite interior manipulations because of their ability to intelligently deconstruct the shipping container into an architectural compositional element that doesn’t immediately reveal its origins.  I believe this works so well due to their careful selection of pieces from the whole container: how the whole was then disassembled and made into a “new” thing.  While using the whole container is an interesting idea in itself, this one doesn’t put its cards on the table all at once, if you will.  At one scale (2nd image below) it reads as an balanced composition.  At another scale, you realize that you can actually inhabit the space…

The idea of using the shipping containers came from the clients desire to be in their space in just 14 weeks.  Obviously, clear and consistent communication between the architects, contractors and fabricators was paramount in meeting the deadline of this 7000 sf space.  Below are a few images from the project that still looks pretty good:


view from the street into the space



8 view of the conference room



In contrast, I wanted to post a few projects that have used shipping containers as the main habitat.  While the element of the shipping container in these projects is evident, I feel the restrained manipulations of either exterior and/or interior are well done.


A container house by Port-A-Bach architects – nice manipulation!


container house by Port-A-Bach architects

Container  House by CGarchitect

Container House by CGarchitect

Cite a Docks by Canttani Architects

Cite a Docks by Canttani Architects

Architect Francis Kirkpatrick's shipping container houses - in my city Atlanta Ga

Architect Francis Kirkpatrick’s shipping container houses – in my city Atlanta, Ga!!  I have visited this house.  Once inside, the interior reminded me of a modern brownstone you might visit in D.C. Or Boston. Check out the website & video at:



Let me know your thoughts on this idea…