McConkey Shipping Container Home, San Diego, California

About OBR Architecture

ProjectMcConkey Residence
DesignerOBR Architecture
Builder and ownerMike McConkey
Area800 square feet
LocationLakeside, San Diego County, California, USA
PhotographerKevin Walsh

For many people, a huge mega-mansion represents the beautiful ideal dream home, but for Shawn and Mike McConkey, a shipping container home was their ideal. The shipping container McConkey Residence in San Diego, California, designed by OBR Architecture, is one of the first San Diego’s shipping container homes. 800 square feet of living space was formed by three shipping containers. Floor-to-ceiling huge windows make the open-air space feel even larger. Another thoughtful element is a retractable garage standard door next to the kitchen (and this design can be perfect for those times when the kitchen stove gets a bit too smoky). The roof and windows design incorporate flame-retardant level materials in the event of nearest wildfires.

Building a shipping container home was a dream come true for owners of this shipping container home - Mike and Shawn McConkey. Mike, a construction superintendent and architectural engineer was able to do a good portion of this custom home, along with an architect and general contractor. Having built a farm building stand out of a shipping container earlier in his professional career, Mike knew some of the possible challenges with this type of prefab modular structure.

Mike found that what appears to be standard indestructible shipping containers, lose much of their constructional rigidity when the shipping container sides are modified or changed, such as cutting openings in the metal for doors and windows. Mike learned how to deal with design issues by devising necessary structural reinforcements for containers relating to these windows/doors modifications and other changes in the structure, while maintaining the desired appearence of the shipping containers. Another related challenge was getting necessary construction approvals because of the first shipping container home in San Diego county and the county building department had never seen this type of container construction before this project, ultimately taking about half a year. Joining usual residential conventional construction materials to the shipping containers was also more difficult; attaching conventional construction materials to steel rather than wood. Christopher Bittner, the architect on the shipping container home in San Diego project,  recommends “Anyone wanting to pursue this type of construction should thoroughly interview builders to be sure they are up to the task.” When the shipping container home was complete, Mike and Shawn had an environmentally friendly and beautiful house that is very cozy and comfortable.

Description by OBR Architecture

The McConkey’s dreamed about building a shipping container house in San Diego and tasked us with designing an environmentally sensitive home utilizing three shipping containers. The initial inspiration behind their dream was a photo in some literature for a ceramic paint being used on container homes in Europe. The 800 SF house is among the first shipping container residences in San Diego County. Because the area is prone to wildfires, special flame retardant materials were used for the windows and roof. The kitchen has an open-plan where a garage door can be retracted to take advantage of the balmy California climate and bring the outdoors in. The flooring, doors, and bathroom vanity were sourced from the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.


About OBR Architecture

Launched in April 2008, obrARCHITECTURE, INC. sprung from the desire to create lasting and meaningful relationships with our clients, our projects and the environment. We are located in the heart of San Diego’s North Park arts district on 3805 Ray Street, San Diego, CA 92104 and are actively involved with the local art community. We are a small, focused firm and believe that each individual partner’s unique talents makes for a dynamic whole that can not only meet, but exceed our client’s expectations. As a small firm we believe strongly in being accessible and flexible with our clientele. With the partners’ wide array of experience, the firm has the ability to take on a wide variety of project sizes and types and can adjust quickly to changes in programs, budgets or designs. We bring an exceptional collaborative and artistic approach to every project and feel we have an obligation to assist, inspire and lead our clients in reaching their project goals.

Gathering allows us to draw inspiration from the spirit of our community. Sharing our office as a space to host events has been a mainstay of the firm’s values since its inception. Our location in the heart of El Cajon Boulevard was chosen for its proximity to so many elements of San Diegan culture, which contributes to the success of each event. obrEVENTS allow us to congregate with neighbors and friends; clients and collaborators; sharing interests that are broader than the realm of architecture. Our quarterly art events showcase local talent in the visual and performing arts within the obrGALLERY. We source the event’s refreshments from local, small, and new businesses with a focus on featuring up and coming vendors. We believe in a balance of passions and the strength of community and each obrEVENT provides us with invaluable inspiration to enrich our architectural designs.

Address3817 Ray St, San Diego, CA 92104, United States
Phone+1 619-564-7586

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McConkey Shipping Container Home, San Diego, California