Architecture Lab

Forget Big-Box Stores. How About A Big-Box House?

A Seattle firm, HyBrid Architecture, has used shipping containers to build cargotecture one-room cabins and multistory office parks.
Forget Big-Box Stores. How About A Big-Box House?

The architecture firm HyBrid, which specializes in designing buildings from recycled shipping containers, created this solar-powered house for <em>Sunset Magazine</em>.

When it comes to architecture, sustainability and affordability can mean many things: Salvaged wood becomes new flooring, old newspapers are shredded into insulation.
But a few architects are taking green building one step further: creating entire homes and businesses out of discarded shipping containers — an approach some have dubbed “cargotecture.”

Approximately a quarter-million shipping containers pass through Oregon’s Port of Portland each year. These are big boxes — 40 feet long and weighing thousands of pounds.
“As you look across the container terminal here, they look like giant, multicolored Legos stacked up out there,” says port spokesman Josh Thomas. Each one is full of cargo moving in or out of the Portland region.

Shipping containers are ubiquitous on trucks, trains and ships today; about 20 million pass through American ports each year. But as critical as they are to modern life, the containers date back fewer than 60 years.

“We started to see containerization,” the freight shipping system based on the boxy containers, in the 1950s, Thomas says. “And since then, increasingly, just about anything that can be shipped inside of a container is.”

, ,