mainstream isbu home

"the ranch" - copywrite r | one studio arch 2011

It’s funny to me that so many people are so resistant to building with alternative technology or alternative materials.  Especially in America.  I mean, we are the land of risk and experimentation, aren’t we?

Anyway, I was on another blog reading about some “container angst and opposition” and stumbled across this home built in Kansas City by an industrial designer.  Built from 5 standard high cube shipping containers, the home is roughly 2000 sf and, as you can see in the video, is more than livable.  Enjoy.

9 thoughts on “mainstream isbu home

  1. This is a great example. If this doesn’t close the mouths of the critics, nothing will. I would love to see drawings of it, but the video really does it justice.

    • Sorry but this is an absolutely terrible project !

      These containers are brand new containers built specifically for this house in China with non standard 12′ ceiling heights.

      There could be few green building practices that are worse than custom making brand new 8000+ lb steel boxes in China and dragging them to the United States for the purpose of being some “designer house” .

      This is against all of the founding principals of the container home movement – reuse and re-purpose containers that are near the end of their lifespan

      Using new ones ( one trip units ) already in the country is bad enough making and importing more so you can have higher ceilings is absolutely shameful !

      I don’t know if you missed this point or are missing the point about emboddied energy ? I hope that you just missed that they are new, but its pretty clear in the story, she went to China three times to “oversee” their manufacture.

      I am also going to take you to task on something else whilst I have you here.

      Why is it that Advocates like yourself talk about promoting “Container based Architecture” but refuse to promote the major websites that are doing the most to educate and inform the market ?

      There are four resources that in my opinion do more than any other to educate and inform the ISBU Association, Alex Klein, Runkle Consulting and my site [deleted by moderator]
      Neither the ISBU Association or Runkle Consulting or my site have even the slightest mention on your site, and if you have done even 5 % of the research I am sure you have then you know them all.

      Why is it that container home advocates refuse to cross promote other resources ?

      Heck even the ISBU Association hates anyone that presents themselves as “credible” their latest post is running down any and all “forums” on this subject.

      Whats my point ?

      The biggest problem with these types of solutions is not the “main stream” adoption by Architects its the politics of the players in the market.

      Its exactly the same “politics” that surround any “product” – the take away from all this is that Container Homes are not a green movement its a “business” and god forbid anyone of us promote the competition !

      Its your business of course but if your motives are to share information with your readers can I ask that you adopt a policy of promoting other sites on a merit basis ?

      Some of my free resources – free for everyone.

      [deleted by moderator]

      Right there is a 90 minutes of free content – surely that justifies a link on your blog roll ?



      • For reference.


        The Glassberg House is a 2600 sf single family residence constructed principally from five, 40’ x 8’ containers. The containers are pieced together with a steel and concrete framework to create space for two bedrooms, an office, TV room, kitchen, dining, living room and three bathrooms. Exterior space includes a rooftop garden.

        Drawing on professional contacts of the owner/contractor, Debbie Glassman, the containers were pre-fabricated in China and shipped to the United States. Of the five containers, three were modified to 12-1/2 feet high (for the bedrooms and office) and two were 9 feet high all taller than the standard 8 foot high container. The containers were designed as separate units so that they could be moved if necessary in the future.

        Interior material choices include sugar beet foam insulation and bamboo flooring. Other green features are geothermal heating/cooling, tankless water heaters, LED lighting and rainbarrel benches. The project does not include grey water usage.

        The project’s primary successes are the manner in which the containers were manipulated to create spatial variety and the fact that they are demountable and portable. Primary shortcomings include the sourcing of the containers from China that required numerous visits to China during the prefabrication process and the additional shipping distance to the United States.

      • Victor, awesome project. Awesome site too. I’m actually a member of the Open Architecture Network – though as of yet I haven’t posted anything myself. Thanks.

      • You continue to maintain that this project is some kind of failure, which it is not. This tells me that you are completely closed minded and biased to your own point of view and how you would do things, which is not the mark of any brand of architect that I would associate with. Where is your disdain and vitriol for all those big box retailers who really are wasting materials and building homes that suck too much energy and won’t last more than a decade before needing significant repairs and renovations? Where’s your angst for all those?
        This is what really chaps my rear end. You’re not an advocate, you’re a pimp. You’re pimping your way to anyone who would listen, which is irresponsible and quite frankly an insult to people like me who have a real passion for architecture, design and my clients needs. No self-respecting architect would so completely vilify a project the way you have without looking at the project for what it really is. Instead you look at it through your biased and angry lens because she didn’t build her house the way you would have built it. I feel sad for you for that. I can’t even imagine on how much good architecture and ideas you’re missing out on because you can’t see past your own angst.
        Architecture is about experimentation, investigation and creating a quality product on time, on budget and fulfilling the client’s program. This client wanted to use shipping containers to build her home. She wanted to use new containers and she wanted to fabricate them to suit her needs. This is what she did so in my mind, and by all basic architectural accounts, this is a successful project. She maintains sustainable technology in her project and even has plans to add green roof structures for vegetable growing. By all accounts this is an important step in the right direction not just for container homes but for modern architecture in general. It’s starts important conversations about what is possible that need to be had in mainstream arenas.
        Good luck with whatever kind of business you have running over there. But please leave the rest of us who actually care to promote the real cause of architecture instead of promoting a product or service.

      • Victor, where do I begin? First, I won’t be publicizing you on my site. For one simple reason – YOU ASKED…or rather seem to demand that I should. I promote those on my blog that I find interesting, those that I find value and education from. Your site seems to be about selling a product rather than actually increasing education and awareness, which is fine – I even promote sites that like here – but they never asked me for such. If you’ve every actually READ my blog you’ll know that I promote LOTS of other websites and blogs and even more on my twitter account. I’ve also been working with Alex Klein now for a little over 6 months I think, on no fewer than 6 projects that will be exclusively container modular construction – so don’t tell me that I don’t promote others. This isn’t my “business”, this is my blog where I try to promote information and the sharing of my own personal opinions about architecture and design and my own personal work in order to get feedback from my peers and encourage a dialogue about design and architecture and how are daily lives are affected by such.
        Now, my intention with posting this particular project had absolutely nothing to do with sustainability and it had everything to do with simply showcasing a home built out of shipping containers in our backyard here in the US. I don’t care how this client went about having her home constructed because IT’S HER HOME not mine. What IS important, and what you seem to be missing, is that this woman talks POSITIVELY about container construction in the main stream media which is something that DOES NOT HAPPEN. So however the word gets spread I’m all for it. I don’t care if she had each portion fabricated in a different country and had each individual piece shipped to the site to be built by workers imported from different countries (ok I would care about that but I’m trying to make a point). What’s important here is that a conversation is being had about upcycling containers into homes. Did she go about it in a perfect way? Probably not, but then that isn’t for us to say because IT ISN’T OUR HOME. But, what someone like you, does by coming out against this type of project, even though you claim to promote container architecture, is you DISCREDIT those who are actively trying to educate the public that this is a viable option. You want people to build these the way YOU would rather than in the manner that is best in terms of their program and budget.
        One of the biggest pet peeves that I have with people like you is, in your mind it seems, there is only “one way” in which to go about this. You talk about the “spirit” of container architecture as “green” and “recycling” and that’s great. Those are important conversations to have and I’m sure you have lots to say about the subject. But you also need to be inclusive and indulgent of other ways in which to “do” this – that is construct a home out of shipping containers. There is no one solution for any single building type or construction method and to rail at those who would go outside your “box” is quite simply irresponsible and confrontational in a way that will only hurt you in the long run.

      • Yes where does one start – haha that in itself is a good start.

        You are an Architect you so you should have all resources and technical background to understand this argument perfectly well.

        All that steel to make a house ? quite simply that is not good use of resources – for environmental reasons a house should be “strong enough” not as “strong as possible”. I think everyone fully accepts the over engineering and over use of materials when they are recycled but doing this from new is unjustifiable.

        This project and others like it Meka, Travelodge etc are nothing but green-washing. If you are defending the manufacture of brand new containers over-sized to accommodate 12 ‘ ceilings in China and bringing them to the US as personal choice then I am not going to argue with you its a pointless exercise you you are not the general public and should know better.

        As far as “selling a product ” on my site goes goes that’s just naive as well.

        If you think that the information the ISBU Association, or Alex or I am offering is a “profit maker” then again I guess all I can say is ok – again.

        I don’t deny that we would all probably like to make money from it ( that’s probably why the refuse to promote anyone else culture has developed ) but in all cases what we offer members against what we charge will never make a profit ever and personally I could not care less that is not what the site is about.

        The site is about one thing teaching people how to do this right, the irrony of the fact that I am point out right here a project that is NOT RIGHT to an Architect that should know better is not lost, this is exactly what the site is about.

        Finally you refuse to promote the longest running and most detailed information site on the subject in the future on your site because they “asked” ? wow

        If you know Alex you know the personalities and principals of the people that have been doing this a long time – I will simply graciously thank you for your time and leave it at that.

  2. Lee, thanks for your comments. The funny thing is, there are literally HUNDREDS of projects just like this all over the US and Canada that have been built and occupied for YEARS and yet the mainstream architectural community still views this as a “fringe” or “niche” market. :-\ Most of my designs, to date, have been bordering on the “extremely small” (1000 sf or less…mostly less), but I’ve got a design in the works for one that is a straightforward modern design of modest size (about 1300 sf) that a normal family could purchase and inhabit in almost any neighborhood.
    Thanks again. Hope you’re having a good start to your week. Cheers.

  3. Pingback: House Blueprints - Blueprint 3301

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