Kaloorup Shipping Container House, WA, Australia

9x40ft containers home

About Lanigan Architects

Owner and BuilderSteve Hick
ArchitectLanigan Architects
Area370 sqm (3980 sqft)
LocationKaloorup, Western Australia

The Kaloorup Shipping Container House is a project that Steve Hick is undertaking in the south west of Western Australia. Nine 40ft containers are being used for the structure. Recycling where possible using native hardwoods (Jarrah) for cladding and decking.  The cladding and darker tones are being used to help the house blend in with the surrounding bushland. Large double glazed glass panels are being used where possible to retain warmth through the cooler months and secondary colourbond roofing to act as a second skin protecting the inhabitants from unwanted heat transfer in summer. The project is the first legal container house structure in the southern capes Margaret River area and is close to completion.

Interview with the architect

What did the client ask you for?

Friends of mine had a rural block in the Margaret River region. They wanted to put a more substantial home on the block using sea containers. I thought it was a great opportunity to do something creative that achieved their goals but could be something really special and beautiful to be a part of.

So we widened our thinking to consider a master plan, including channelling the natural springwater into a dam and planning future chalets in the surrounding bushland.

How does this sit within your overall view architecture and life?

I really feel that a building has to fit, not only into its surroundings but also to suit the nature of its owners. The owner of this property is a fairly handy guy with access to friends who had more specialised skills, as well as a whole lot of recycled materials. Things like reclaimed local Jarrah, double glazed window units, cladding etc. We wanted to put these resources and talents to good use so the palette of materials and building methodology evolved from what was immediately available.

How did you make the containers work for this build?

The logical structure would just be to place one container on top of the other, but we wanted to do something literally outside of that box. Right from the start I saw an opportunity to spread out on a site to create a sculptural building sat in a broader, natural context not contained within traditional suburban boundaries. So each container is articulated to stand partly alone, rather than as a stacked piece. They make great building blocks and with some modifications can accommodate any room. Spaces are also created between the containers and areas of the house slot into and around them.

Downstairs there are 2 dorms, upstairs the open plan living area leads to a huge elevated timber deck overlooking the dam. Linked off these spaces are 2 similar master pods with robes, bedrooms, master ensuite.

The containers are still identifiable in their original form. Why is that?

I never wanted to fully subvert the containers, I wanted to express them in some way so as to retain a trace of their original purpose. While the upstairs is clad in beautiful materials, downstairs you can still see the sea containers which pay homage to their origin. The front doors are actually the sea container doors which can lock up the whole place.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the design and build process?

There is a certain limitation that unaltered sea containers have based on their dimensions. We had to re-think how these worked in the context of a home. The modular nature forces you to get creative about how larger areas will work. Configuration and the linking of spaces that are atypical allowed new ideas to emerge. One of these is the cantilevered upper level of containers. This adds to the architecture rather than constraining it.

The structure was built by the owner rather than engaging a builder. This is sometimes a challenge in maintaining the integrity of the intended design, but although he didn't have a building background his passion and determination to take something potentially mundane and make the extraordinary was amazing. He got his hands dirty! But his meticulous execution and ability to stay true to the original vision has brought the design to life.

How do you feel about the resulting home?

I'm really pleased. It's an amazing showcase of a varied skills and like-minds coming together. The architectural design creates excitement and anticipation as you glimpse it through the bush-land on approach, where it sits like an elegant Ark in the landscape. From the minute a guest gets their first look, the desire to explore and see what's around each corner reveals so many unexpected vistas and surprises.

Do you think we will see more such homes in the future?

This type of design has a lot of potential. For a start you are reusing existing materials. They can be reused over and over again. Interest is increasing due to the practicality, low structural cost. They are capable of becoming well-insulated units with the right treatment. All the windows are double glazed. Speed of the build is another great benefit, the containers were craned into place all in one day. Obliviously fit-out took a lot longer. But it means that you could potentially create very affordable housing in a suburban context.

VillaFiona is Lanigan Architects first non-urban work.



About Lanigan Architects

At Lanigan Architects innovation meets versatility. With a passion for design excellence and a commitment to diverse architectural solutions, our small but dynamic team brings a wealth of experience to the table. From residential to commercial projects, social housing to disability accommodation, crisis shelters to modular construction, and beyond – our portfolio is a testament to our proficiency across a spectrum of architectural endeavours.

We understand that every project is unique, and our collaborative approach ensures that client visions are not only realized but surpassed. Whether it's crafting innovative single-family residences or repurposing existing structures to breathe new life into spaces with a keen eye for sustainability and functionality, we pride ourselves on delivering tailored solutions that stand out in their creativity and functionality.

Our commitment goes beyond conventional boundaries, embracing socially responsible projects with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility, we strive to create environments that enrich lives and empower communities. Our passion for sustainable design is seamlessly integrated into every project, leaving a positive impact on the environment.

Address20 Altona St, West Perth WA 6005, Australia
Phone+61 403 058 255
Email admin@laniganarchitects.com.au
Website https://www.laniganarchitects.com.au/

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Kaloorup Shipping Container House, WA, Australia