12 Containers 4,000 sqft Beautiful Shipping Container Home, Maine

Floor plans / Drawings
About Adam Kalkin
About Sheridan Corporation
About Industrial Zombie

ArchitectAdam Kalkin
BuilderSheridan Corporation
ProjectAdriance House
Area4,000 sq feet (371 sq m)
Cost$125/square foot
LocationNorthern Maine
PhotographyPeter Aaron/Esto

This beautiful container home was built by stacking twelve shipping containers and replacing some of the steel container walls with large windows. The design creates the feeling as if there are exterior entrances, courtyards and houses within the building. By using inexpensive, readily available shipping containers to built the home, the architect managed to keep the cost of this beautiful container home at about $125/square foot.

Description by designboom

Architect Adam Kalkin combines 12 shipping containers inside a larger structure to create the Adriance House in Northern Maine. The shipping container home uses the containers partially for structure, supporting a glazed glass structure that envelops the home. The containers flank the two side walls of the home and on the ground floor are open to reveal the kitchen and the living area. Two steel staircases lead up to the second level of containers where the bedrooms are located. The whole space covers close to 4000 square feet and features a double height garage door style opening that connects the entire home to the outdoors. Kalkin worked with butler to construct the shipping container home. Butler has a long history with pre-fabricated architecture, having worked with Buckminster Fuller in the 1940’s on his dymaxion deployment unit.

Description by mainehomedesign

In a region filled with green-shuttered, white-clapboarded, quintessential New England homes, it’s a stunning sight to come upon a life-vest orange, corrugated-metal home with expansive glass walls. Made from twelve industrial shipping containers, the home is anything but traditional or expected, and yet the Adriance home somehow seems entirely in harmony with the rugged, rocky coastline. The home is built from twelve containers divided into two groups of six. The containers are stacked on top of each other like Legos, and the two container sections are connected by a glass-walled, open-concept central room with a ceiling that soars to 25 feet.

How did this example of cutting-edge architecture end up in a quaint town in Maine? Transfixed by the summers she spent in Blue Hill Bay during her youth, Anne Adriance wanted to continue the tradition as an adult, bringing her husband, Matthew, and their two sons into the fold. Adriance admitted that, when they initially purchased the secluded, 10-acre plot, she didn’t have a strong sense of what she wanted in a home, design-wise. Her only thought was that it would probably make sense to work with a local architect, someone who would have ready access to the site. But Adriance soon found herself consulting with her friend Adam Kalkin, an architect from New Jersey—where, ironically, the Adriances live in a classical Victorian home. Ultimately, it was Adriance and Kalkin’s creative compatibility that led to their partnership on the project.

Kalkin, a Vassar College graduate, is known for pushing the envelope in both art and design. He first became fascinated with containers in the 1990s while using them in his artwork. He has since made a name for himself in the emerging field of “cargotecture.” Kalkin completed the Collector’s House, another container structure, for the Shelburne Museum during the latter planning stages of the Adriance home, and the two structures share several similarities, including the bold use of vibrant orange transoceanic shipping containers. Renowned interior designer Albert Hadley also worked on both projects.

Working with the steel shipping containers requires skills more often found in commercial construction, so Kalkin contracted Sheridan Corporation, one of Maine’s largest commercial builders, to install and weld the metal containers. Then the Brooklin-based construction firm Prin A. Allen & Sons, Inc., completed the finish work. Sheridan’s foreman, Doug Cutchin, now retired after more than forty years, said that, looking back, the Adriance home was “the frosting on the cake—marrying a modern, utilitarian design to an old Downeast setting.”

Surry Gardens, another local company, created a soothing Japanese garden in the rocky soil, as well as a striking wall of Rosa rugosa (beach roses) near the driveway. In front of the house, they also planted an array of—you guessed it—orange lilies of multiple hues that bloom from spring to fall.

The outdoors is integral to Kalkin’s architectural vision for the home. One of the most magnificent features of the house is an enormous glass-paned garage door, which can be opened onto a back deck where glimpses of the ocean can be seen through the surrounding fir trees. The garage door remains open for most of summer, even during rainstorms, and the subtle sound of raindrops on the metal roof has become one of Adriance’s favorite aspects of living in the container home. Flowing, floor-to-ceiling microfiber drapes gently frame the glass ends of the house, simultaneously counterbalancing the rigid metal architecture and acting as a raincoat when drawn.

Early on, Adriance, herself an artist whose delicate watercolors adorn the walls, decided that the project’s success necessitated that she “just give over to [Kalkin’s] ideas and his vision and go with it.” She adds that “it was such a dramatic and bold kind of decision to design the house the way it is that anything I changed would sort of change the vision.” And with this single act of trust, the container house was born. “There’s this big open room where everybody can be together, and then there’s the privacy of having your own little container and being able to close the curtains and be in your own little space,” Adriance says. “Being up in these upstairs bedrooms is so great—you feel like you’re in a tree house.” In contrast to the bright-orange, corrugated-metal walls of the communal space, the sheetrock walls of the intimate containers seem conventional.

The decision to intensify the containers’ natural, rust-orange color surprised Adriance, who had originally envisioned a dark-green color that would blend into the landscape. But Adriance again deferred to Kalkin’s vision, and she now believes that the orange not only maintains the integrity of the containers, but that the color is in keeping with the structure’s overall authenticity. “Things are what they are. They’re not disguised…You see where things were welded. You see how things were put together. There is not an intent to hide where something’s bolted. It is what it is, and that’s part of the beauty of it.” Yet underlying this transparent approach to construction is the aura of mystery surrounding each shipping container’s history, about which Adriance admits to pondering. One almost wishes the containers came with passports, or the exotic labels of vintage luggage, to document their global journeys.

The two teak staircases and upstairs hallways on each side of the house resemble the decking on a boat, further illustrating the seaside home’s connection to its seafaring past. The teak is coated with a clear varnish, allowing the wood’s natural radiance to shine through. Skylights let in natural light at the top of the staircases, where the metal ceiling starts its rise to the peak.

Located in the heart of the home, and accenting the teak stairs, is a rustic wooden farmhouse table that seats fifteen, facilitating large gatherings. The green microfiber drapes, a 12-foot-long custom couch, and large, overstuffed armchairs intentionally sized to compete with the scale of the massive room were all Albert Hadley’s inspirations. But it was Adriance who filled the home with local artwork, including Glimmer, an ocean scene painted by Tom Curry. Adriance also added whimsical wooden animal statues by Dan Falt, a former Wall Street trader who returned home to Maine and took up sculpting. Adriance is also responsible for what is perhaps the home’s pièce de résistance—the humorous (and fake) moose head installed prominently above the kitchen island.

Kalkin himself designed the two bronze lamps that bookend the couch. When Adriance was asked if the architect normally designs lighting or other accessories to go with his designs, she laughed and said that she wouldn’t say “normally” about anything the versatile, imaginative Kalkin dreams up. Adriance also says that this unconventional home is in many ways more functional than her family’s traditional New Jersey home. She loves the container home’s openness and ease of maintenance. The home’s cement floors are easily swept or vacuumed, and the radiant-heat system makes damp days and early winter mornings comfortable.


Adriance takes evident pride in her house—a pride that is clearly justified. She describes Kalkin’s design as one that “makes you stop and notice it. But it does it in a way that has you really consider your notions of What is house? What is home?” As for her own home, Adriance eloquently says that she sees it “as a work of immense creativity and art itself. It is our home for sure, but it has always been more than that for me.”

4 Bedroom Cargo Container Home with External Insulation, Quebec, Canada

About Maison Idekit

Architect and OwnerBernard Morin
DesignMaison Idekit
Area3,000 square feet
LocationSt. Adele, Quebec, Canada
Project cost$175,000

This 3,000 square feet cargo container home in Quebec has four bedrooms. In the seven cargo units home the container walls are exposed on the inside. On the outside, the container home walls have five inches of thermoinsulation that is topped by wood siding. This energy-efficient, durable and bright inside home cost about $175,000 to build.

A Quebec architect and his wife have transformed seven old steel shipping containers into a contemporary architectural gem in Ste. Adele, Quebec, Canada.

Rather than spend about $400,000 to build their 3,000-square-foot dream home out of wood, the couple decided to use an eco-friendly alternative at the bargain price of $175,000.

The home is the first project of Joyce Labelle and Bernard Morin's company Maison Idekit Home, and the first of its kind in Quebec.

Labelle and Morin began building their three-bedroom house in 2007, and the next year they moved in with their six children.

The main pieces of the house were the steel shipping containers, six metres high and 2.5 metres wide.

The containers have been arranged in an unconventional Cubist design, taking advantage of the natural slope setting -- nestled in the woods of St. Adele, northwest of Montreal. Some containers are stacked upright, others on their sides or stacked on top of each other.

The master bedroom departs from the main portion of the house and a large balcony encircles the back supported by stilts. It's like a big Lego project.

Widows of different sizes and shapes have been cut into the containers. Five inches of urethane insulation have been added to outer layer, and then finally protected by brown wood siding.

Indoors, many of the walls retain the corrugated look of the standard shipping containers. The original dents and serial numbers add to the character of the home.

The container concept has been a dream of Morin's for years, Labelle said.

"He used to be an architect for many years. He had this dream to transform containers, but it wasn't the proper time," she told.

But these days, building environmentally-friendly housing is also a good business proposition, and this was an ideal time for the couple to build their first prototype.

For the past years architects thinking green have used shipping containers to provide affordable housing. They've also been used for shelters in hurricane-prone areas in the United States, for student housing in Holland and for a residential development in London, England called "Container City."

After withstanding the punishing weather of the high seas, the containers make for durable homes. The hurricane-proof containers are resistant to rust, mould, termites and fire.

The constructive concept developed by Bernard Morin is simple but innovative. At the start there are shipping containers and, on arrival, a contemporary detached house. The Quebec architect has been convinced, for nearly twenty-five years, that steel caissons can be as useful in the field of construction as in that of transport. To inhabit them, he explains that it is enough simply "to transform them then to juxtapose them or to superimpose them". Only here it is: despite the ingenuity of the system, its customers have never dared to go beyond the conceptual stage. To convince them, Bernard Morin had to set an example ...

A house assembled in 3 hours

First step of the project: find land. Wishing to live in harmony with nature, the architect finally opted - after two years of research - for a wooded plot located in Sainte-Adèle, north of Montreal.

As the plans for the house were complex, it was necessary to have seven sea containers delivered by truck. A singular moment of which Jocelyne Labelle, the architect's companion, keeps a strong memory: "of all the stages of the site, the arrival of sea containers on the ground is the one that impressed me the most", says -she. The containers, which serve as the load-bearing structure for the house, were installed on the foundation in just half a day. "You just had to fit the pieces together like in a lego game", laughs Bernard Morin. The rest of the work was spread over ten months. A period of time during which the couple got down to transforming the containers: integrating openings and insulating them, preferably from the outside in order to conserve as much living space as possible.

The end result is stunning since, thanks to the presence of an exterior facing, the existence of the containers is completely erased. For the architect, the use of end-of-life shipping containers in construction is above all of ecological interest. Instead of being abandoned in ports, steel boxes are indeed recycled. The shipping container house also wins because it is assembled quickly, has good mechanical resistance and, above all, is scalable.

To expand it, you just need to add a container or two, as needed. A practical solution already implemented in existing homes on the outskirts of Montreal. This is undoubtedly a first step before moving on to the construction of individual houses exclusively made up of containers. Moreover, according to the market study carried out by Bernard Morin, self-builders in North America and Europe could well be the first to get started!

1x20 ft and 2x40 ft Shipping Container Home, Houston, Texas

About Numen Development
About Christopher Robertson

ProjectCordell House
DesignChristopher Robertson, Numen Development
Containers1x20 ft, 2x40 ft plus 1x40 ft guest unit
Area1,858 sq ft
LocationHouston, Texas
PhotographyJack Thompson

Despite unconventional building elements of this shipping container home, the architects created a traditional rectangular home plan. Outside, the three units, one 20-foot container and two 40-foot containers form the three facades, with a glass wall to the fourth completing the perimeter of the home. The master suite is placed in the 40-foot unit; the second bedroom and an opening for the playroom and office, also take up the 40-foot module; and the laundry and kitchen rooms house the 20-foot container. Outside 400 sq ft deck connects the house to a 40 foot container that inhabits the storage shed and guest quarters.

Description by architect

This shipping container home in Houston, Texas, was designed for a speculative builder, however, it sold prior to completion and thus reflects the personality of its owners. When investigating the use of containers, we quickly concluded that thinking of them as 8′ thick walls rather than as rooms made the most sense. We were able to program the “walls” with functions that fit in that tight dimension like bathrooms, a kitchen, and closets. The primary space of the house however is created in the center of a U-shaped arrangement of three containers. A fourth container houses a small guest suite and acts as a site wall that encloses a small court yard.