Shipping Container Micro-House with Folding Wall, New Zealand

Drawings / Floor plan
About Atelierworkshop

Project: Port-A-Bach
Design: Atelierworkshop
Year: 2001 - 2006
Photography: Paul McCredie

Atelierworkshop believes shipping containers can be an effective answer for various scale architectural projects and if site access, portability, security, robustness are issues. This shipping container micro-house with folding wall was built in Hangzhou, China and transported to New Zealand. The prototype was a part of the exhibition of Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth (1/2013).

Description by project team.

The Port-A-Bach project by the architects of the Atelier Workshop is a shipping container micro-house built on the basis of a single transport container that has been set up on wheels for easy transport. The prototype was built in Hangzhou, China but has already been moved to New Zealand, where it is a permanent part of the collection of the Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth.

The shipping container micro-house can accommodate two adults and two children, and each inch was carefully designed to provide maximum comfort in the smallest space. Its interior is mostly made of wood - including a bathroom with an open shower, a sink and a composting toilet.

The kitchen has lots of storage furniture (some hidden, some exposed) and natural light filters in between your windows. The shipping container micro-house can be equipped with solar panels and rooftop wind turbines, allowing it to operate completely off-grid.

The flexible structure of the Port-A-Bach is able to unfold to expand connections to the outside and then to be closed again for relocation.


  • fully enclosed exterior steel shell (when folded up)
  • appointed with large internal storage cupboards and shelves / stainless steel kitchen and fittings / bathroom with open shower, sink, composting toilet,
  • interior fabric screen system gives the versatility of creating rooms within the large open living space : includes bunk beds, double bed room, dressing room, kitchen and bathroom
  • exterior canvas screen system allows to shelter the deck area for comfortable indoor/outdoor flow and living
  • 6 concrete footings form a stable, non-invasive 'foundation', allowing you to situate the unit on a wide range of ground conditions

A holiday home:

  • portable
  • secure
  • high-level finish
  • designed to be environmentally clean
  • comparatively inexpensive
  • comfortably sleeps two adults and two children

That allows:

  • transportation
  • immediate, flexible and long-term solution that enables you to use your land without investing in a permanent property commitment
  • for future development, ideal for leased land situations
  • to be power, water and sewer independent, it is well suited to remote or non-service supplied land
  • also be connected to available services
  • quick and easy transportation (via truck or helicopter) and installation to any orientation with minimal impact on site
  • unfolding to create a living space and refolding to create a secure unit for in situ storage or relocation

Drawings / Floor plan

BONNIFAIT + GIESEN - Atelierworkshop Architects

Atelierworkshop was founded in 2000 by Cecile Bonnifait and William Giesen based on a duality of thought and language as a working process. Both trained architects, they each have different and diverse architectural experience in various parts of the world that combine professional work and research.

Over 20 years in practice they have developed a portfolio of built work that covers diverse sectors and includes many new buildings and redevelopments of existing buildings. Their approach is orientated towards reconnecting people with a physical reality, a territory, its history and a cultural context.

“Our architecture seeks to reveal the landscape and the environment through innovation and common sense. Our projects are developed from a concern for forming one body with the site. Without compromising on design, we put priority on finding sustainable solutions".

Address43 Haining Street,Te Aro,Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Phone+64 4-384 6688

Shipping Container Micro-House with Folding Wall, New Zealand