This container home is the very creative product of MB Architecture, who were tasked by clients to explore means of building a house for their summer and year-round-weekend use. The project's goal was to provide 4 bedrooms, 3 shareable bathrooms, kitchen and living spaces; plus, outdoor eating and recreation areas, a pool; and enough lawn area to play games. The clients had purchased a .34 acre triangular, wooded, corner lot on high ground in Amagansett, NY.
The clients were open to exploring materials, methods of construction, and design strategies that would yield both affordable and exciting solutions. The end result is a unique 1,800 sqf. home complete with Havwoods HW3622 Blanco wood flooring.
Based on prior experience, the MB Architecture team knew that conventional ‘stick-build’ construction using local labor would be prohibitively expensive. Prefabricating the building off-site and use of shipping containers lowered costs, eased transportation, and provided the kind of design experimentation that they were open to.
The home was installed in two days; fully completed in two months; and cost significantly and meaningfully less than prevailing building costs.
Shipping containers are inherently narrow (7’-2” wide, finished inside). So, the design team opted to stack two 40’ long x 8’ wide containers on top of two and carve out the interior floor/wall/ceiling of half of this ‘4-pack’ unit to create a voluminous, 17’ tall, living space that would create an exciting and necessary spatial relief.
To reach the second floor from this room, the team chose to install a wide staircase, taking the whole width of a single container; in this manner, they extend the high living room ceiling and transform the stair itself into a kind of ‘amphitheatrical’ room that faces the backyard, pool, and sunsets—through floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, windows.
Simplicity of spatial layout and materials were sought to yield compelling and uncluttered rooms while achieving budget goals. So, the rectilinear geometry of containers, and their inherent structural strengths, were used to guide room layout and structural requirements. In fact, the small 10’ x 10’ 2nd floor extension is essentially bolted and welded back to the main building and held in tension—it is devoid of beams underneath.
The single container, housing two bedrooms, is placed slightly away from the main building to create courtyard-like outdoor spaces that allow the building to nestle into the sloping landscape, while making the small house feel spacious.
A single tall oak tree was carefully retained during construction and maintains a pivotal point anchoring the two parts of the building together. The transparent bridge connecting these two building parts is surrounded by tall grasses and shrubs creating a pleasant walk-through experience both as one travels through the bridge and as one approaches the front door of the house.