Adam Kalkin, a New Jersey architect isn't the first to seek to make homes out of shipping containers, I see them all the time on the planet green channel, but no one has employed them as intensively as Kalkin has to design luxurious homes, museum additions and refugee housing.
In architectural circles, no one is quite sure what to make of Kalkin and he is somewhat regarded as an oddball. His website includes lessons on hitting a tennis forehand and a selection of songs to sing after taking antidepressants (imagine going karaoke singing with him). Years ago Kalkin shaved while delivering a lecture at the Whitney Museum, which tends to make one wonder what type of Meds he must be on. Still, there is no denying the ingenuity and care with which he has designed his projects, 32 of which were included in the publication of Quik Build: Adam kalkin's ABC of Container Architecture. Some of these projects include the "Bunny Lane," a home he built for himself with a 19th century clapboard cottage inside an industrial hanger, and the "Push Button House," a furnished room that unfolds from a container with hydraulic walls.
Although these projects may make practical sense, shipping containers are cheap, mobile and highly recyclable, they don't seem to make much economic sense as the average cost of these prefab designs range from $250 to $400 a square foot including installation, which is more than a thrifty consumer today would pay for a home built by an architect and contractor. Even with the suggestion that they might be used more in refugee relief and in providing low-cost housing in places like the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, it is still too expensive to warrant justification.
This is the same issue I have with the Ikea and Universal world houses respectively and can understand why if they are to be marketed as a cheaper and smaller alternative to expensive suburban homes, they are so expensive then. At $50,000, I would rather put the money in the bank and rent an apartment or use it as down payment on a California home than buy a 400 plus square foot shipping container to live in. Also, what is the indoor air quality (IAQ) like in the container with extreme temperature changes? I know it is pretty open, but its still made of metal. It might get way too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.
Images obtained from: www.fastcompany.com
For more info, check: http://ecoble.com/2008/06/01/how-to-live-in-a-shipping-container/