domo 2×5

In my continuing quest to design affordable, easily constructed homes for the “little guy” (that would be people like me who make less than $200k a year), I came up with an idea for a 320 square foot home made out of two 20′ standard “high cube” shipping containers.  This is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home completely paired down to the absolute essentials.  It’s not flashy, it’s certainly not a mcmansion, but it’s certainly enough to get started with.  In designing the floor plan, I used european design sensibilities to maximize the available space, since the square footage is limited.  The use of outdoor space to supplement anything lacking indoors is key in a new way of living that thinks outside the box – pun intended.

The roof is elevated in order to put any utilities above the cube so as not to take up precious space indoors.  The high pitch of the roof (5:12) would allow for construction in nearly any climate and also takes advantage of water reclamation for use in washing dishes/clothes and flushing toilets to minimize the need for city services.  Obviously plenty of daylight is let in via operable awning windows that also aid in passive ventilation thus reducing the need for hvac and electric lighting during the daytime hours.

Below are some preview images of the model without any material rendering as of yet.  The real purpose of these designs is to convey form and intent.  Material and color is all up to the client/homeowner.  Finished floor plans are under development, so stay tuned for updates.

[editor’s note: after starring at my “unrendered” images for a while I got tired of the blandness of them and decided to add some texture, material and color.  below you’ll see the posts are 6×6 pressure treated wood, the roof is standing seam metal with integrated solar cells, the cladding is a combination of stucco (at front entry) and vertical siding. The windows are designed to be either wood, vinyl or aluminum storefront as budget would allow.  Finish off with simple concrete piers and wood decks and you’ve got yourself one sexy “Corten Castle” (term copywrited by renaissance ronin).]


front entry and porch doubles as outdoor living space - copywrite r | one studio arch 2010

side of building at front and rear porches - copywrite r | one studio arch 2010

7 thoughts on “domo 2×5

  1. Actually, I was researching SIPs for another project that I’m working on for a competition due in a couple of weeks (typical big box house in a residential development) that has to meet strict energy requirements and came across roof applications for it. This first design I plan to use as many “off grid” applications as I can, which will raise the overall initial cost, but will lower, if not completely eliminate, operational costs. I’m about halfway through developing the floor plan, so we’ll see how things turn out. I’m optimistic. 🙂

  2. That’s the plan. I’ve got some friends, clients that I did a remodel for about two years ago, that have a ocean front home in Croatia. They have no utility bills. The “house”, actually 3 separate buildings, are powered by 2 or 3 solar panels at about 1000 watts per day. That coupled with a freshwater well and runoff collection, they are set. Why this isn’t the American model for home construction I have NO IDEA. Well, actually I have several ideas, but this is a family show so I’ll keep them to myself for now. 😉

  3. Your article says “In designing the floor plan, I used…” which, by virtue of the past tense, suggests that the floor plan work is done. I can’t find this anywhere however, and am very curious to see how you’ve carved up the gross space indicated to yield a livable space. Can you point me to the floor plan? Thanks.

  4. I never did contact you and perhaps I will one day… for the time being I have so many ideas rattling around in my head, not sure whether the container concept is what I want to go with or not. Still, first things first, and I’m merely in the property search mode at present.

    But I wanted to add to the previous exchange between you and “Renaissance Ronin” though regarding the Croatia project you mentioned. My parents lived for about 10 years in a house on a peninsula in Ocean Park, WA, which was actually a collection of buildings. It was a reasonably good sized main house, but relied on ancillary buildings for other services. An outbuilding contained the laundry room, there was a large deck out back with a propane grille which saw frequent use in all seasons, a detached garage with a woodworking shop and a sales shop behind the car area, and an upstairs space suitable for an inlaw-type of apartment, which sadly was never built. There was also a woodshed, and the main house had a sleeping loft above the kitchen and guest room.

    I fell in love with the indoor/outdoor, multi-building concept. It was like a “compound,” even though none of the buildings was particularly imposing. It was an invigorating approach to living, and it inspired me to try to do something similar with my own building project, albeit on a considerably smaller scale. I’m planning a vacation retreat, rather than a year-round residence, and this opens up some possibilities. We’ll see where it goes, but I totally agree that we Americans seem to want to be so utterly isolated from our actual environments, we’re becoming like the fat people on Wall-e. I want something different, and I appreciate very much what I see in your design work.

    • Keith, thank you for your comments. I agree with you completely about us Americans isolating ourselves not just from nature, but also from our communities in the way homes are designed. We’ve taken “privacy” to the n-th degree, which is unfortunate. And, speaking of Croatia, I have a client, friends of mine, that have a house in Croatia and it also is a small complex of buildings. I think this is a cultural thing that would be a lot of fun to pursue here in the States. My wife and I are also in the process of looking for land to purchase. Our home will also be a design of multiple buildings to blur indoor vs outdoor. We’re very much adventurous people and the mountains of Arkansas are perfect for us.

      Good luck in your research and as always let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.


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