UnBoxing an Idea


This has been a long-time coming. I’ve thought about unconventional housing since I was 8 years old, sketching earth-bermed homes and frequently wondering what it might be like to live in a Hobbit hole. I guess that’s why I wanted to study architecture. And here we are now, about to embark on a long and hopefully survivable journey that I expect will be rewarding and fulfilling. This is my attempt at jumping into the maker movement in a big way. I plan to build a 20 foot container home on wheels.

Why am I doing this?

In the last few years, the ‘tiny house’ movement, and especially the ‘tiny house on wheels’ concept has grown in appeal. I know I’m not alone in this. The community of tiny house enthusiasts, builders and regional meet-ups is hard to avoid once you start looking. It’s not just in my region either. There are tiny homes all over the earth, in just about every continent. The overall phenomenon of tiny and mobility combined has caused me to think a bit more about challenging myself to take on a project. As I started researching the possibilities, I began to find that there was something about the shipping container as a system which lends itself to a less-restrictive palette than the traditional stick-built models that are so popular at the moment. The box doesn’t need to remain in it’s original form. They’re very sturdy, and also very pliable.

I feel a deep need to reduce my impact on the earth, with less stuff. If I am to experience a new freedom of living anywhere, and unshackling myself from the idea of a ‘dream home mortgage’, what better way to build a home than to start with one of over 700,000 unused shipping containers just waiting for a new purpose? These things are already weather-tight and extremely durable.

Ideas, shared

Now, I must actually design this thing before too long. My client is very fussy, and there may be some difficult battles ahead. I’ll share the messy process of design and research as I progress. Not the first to go down this road, there’s some fantastic work out there with all budgets by the likes of the cleverly named LOT-EK, HyBrid, and ShelterKraft Werks, I have yet to see other container homes on wheels. I’ll share precedent studies, sketches and study models. Hopefully, this blog can become a mechanism of reaching out to the community to refine my ideas from all of you. I want to get these ideas out there, and I welcome your feedback and support.

– Sean

8 thoughts on “UnBoxing an Idea”

  1. make sure you check out Pinterest – lots of “boards” there focused on container architecture. Good for ideas.

    1. I certainly will. When the designs start becoming more detailed, I will share the source.

      You’ve got me thinking about it a bit more, and it might be interesting to create some Dynamo definitions that allow folks to create variations.

  2. very cool. look forward. Would be great to host it on OpeningDesign.com, if you’re looking for a platform. Community there is pretty stark at the moment, but your project would be a great catalyst. But whatever’s clever.

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