To most people, an ocean container is just a big steel box that carries goods from one country to another. But to some creative thinkers, ocean containers are objects to be transformed into comfortable and airy living spaces.
Designers at Lot-ek, for one, clearly see containers in a different light than most of us. The New York City-based firm says that its Container Home Kit "enhances the beauty of ISO containers, creating exciting, affordable, and modern homes." The kits include modified ocean containers that come with electrical, plumbing, heating, and ventilation systems; insulation; furnished kitchens and baths; a ground-floor porch and second-floor terrace; and windows. The company also sells modified containers that make handy, temporary retail stores suitable for urban streets.
Containers as living and working spaces are becoming more popular from Australia to the Amazon. And although container homes are very economical, they're not just for developing countries or low-income buyers. Architect Adam Kalkin's Quik House, made from seven containers, is known for its quirky comfort, and a housing designer in Canada lives in a three-bedroom container home with a full basement, five balconies, and two baths.
Want to learn more? A November 2006 article, "Box homes around the globe" on the energy-conservation web site Off-Grid is informative and entertaining. To see some photos of container homes, go to www.inhabitat.com.