7 Creative Upcycled Shipping Container Homes

Container Guest House in San Antonio by Poteet Architects

Container Guest House in San Antonio by Poteet Architects

This home stays truest to the standard shipping container format of all the projects featured in this list so I figured it would be a great starting point. It retains the box shape and the brightly painted corrugated metal exterior instead opting for spray foam and bamboo plywood inside to keep it insulated as well as a living green roof on top which also has great insulative properties. A lot of the walls have been removed to be replaced by windows and this small Container Guest Home in San Antonio doesn’t feel claustrophobic inside at all.

Interior of Shipping Container Guest House by Poteet Architects


Mobile Dwelling Unit (MDU) by LOT-EK

MDU (Mobile Dwelling Unit) Exterior by LOT-EK

The MDU (Mobile Dwelling Unit) was developed as more of a concept portable home and due to the complex moving parts I don’t think it could be made as a low cost housing solution like the other shipping container houses featured here. Essentially it features 6 expanding compartments which slide out like accordions to provide more space inside.

Interior Room Compartments of MDU Shipping Container Home by LOT-EK

These compartments house areas such as a kitchenette, sleeping spaces and dining tables, and mean that these features don’t encroach on the already tight space in a 40 by 8 foot shipping container. The MDU by LOT-EK would remain portable as these rooms can slide back flush into the unit during transportation, allowing it to again assume the standardised shipping container size used on lorries and of course cargo ships. This would make it ideal for travelling families moving between long term destinations and there could be a modular / customisation option allowing families to chose which compartments they need.


Containers of Hope in San Jose by Benjamin Garcia Saxe

Containers of Hope in Costa Rica by Benjamin Garcia Saxe

The ‘Containers of Hope’ project by Benjamin Garcia Saxe shows just how low-cost shipping container homes can be. It was designed for the Peralta family on the outskirts of San Jose on the staggeringly small budget of just $40,000 as a self build project. This is even lower than social housing costs to build in the area yet the interior and exterior finishes seem more akin to those usually found in million dollar houses.


Chalet Chemin Brochu by Pierre Morency Architects

Chalet Chemin Brochu by Pierre Morency Architecture

This multi-tiered shipping container home was built in the forest around Beaulac, Canada with minimal disruption to the surrounding woods which makes it feel a bit like a treehouse. Chalet Chemin Brochu features 3 standardised shipping containers which have been heavily clad with locally sourced timber to help them blend into their surroundings. This stunning shipping container home was designed by Pierre Morency Architects and had a budget of just $135,000!

Timber Clad Shipping Container Home in Canada by Pierre Morency


Six Oaks Shipping Container Home in Santa Cruz Woods by Modulus

Six Oak Shipping Container Home in the Woods by Modulus

Six Oaks is a great example of a larger shipping container home in which a number of standard containers have been stacked together. It is situated in woodland and was designed by Modulus with an approach of ‘essentialism’ to be highly functional but not extraneous. The containers are painted a rust red which certainly stands out from the surrounding trees but isn’t too garish. The shade of red actually resembles red oxide metal primer as seen on steel girders and the Golden Gate Bridge which is perhaps a continuation of the utilitarian ‘essentialism’ theme. A fun but perhaps unnecessary detail though is the bridge which provides access to the Six Oak shipping container home from the slope above.


Insta_House Container Art Studio by Maziar Behrooz Architecture

Insta_House Shipping Container Art Studio by Maziar Behrooz Architecture

This shipping container home was built to serve as an artist’s studio in the forest and was designed by Maziar Behrooz Architecture as one of their prefabricated Insta_Houses. These customisable houses start at just under $100,000 and have a number of additional options you can add as modular extras. They’re based around 4 shipping containers stacked together and feel very spacious considering.

Shipping Container House by MB Architecture


Loft Apartment by 2B Group

This one is a bit of an anomaly as it is a shipping container used inside an existing home. It was fitted in this industrial style loft apartment and actually houses a guest bathroom. The dark red of the iconic Maersk shipping container makes a great highlight piece in this otherwise grey concrete based loft apartment while still staying true to the industrial interior design scheme.

Red Maersk Shipping Container in Industrial Loft Apartment by 2B Group

Share this Post

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Christopher

    All these companies selling containers and architects designing these modules, yet I fail to find just 1 example of such a building for sale in the whole of the south east of England …. Why? Where are they?

    1. Mark

      Dear Christopher,
      Did you ever find anything in the UK?
      I’m keen to build one to keep my costs down and wondered wether I could go and visit one.

Leave a Comment