Squirrel Park - AIA Award-Winning Project - Four Single-Family Shipping Container Homes (1400 square feet each), Oklahoma City

Drawings/Floor plans
About Allford Hall Monaghan Morris - Architect
About SMITH Design Company - General Contractor

Project: Squirrel Park
Architecture: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Area: 1400 square feet
Containers: 4
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Budget: $1.1 million
General Contractor: Smith Design Co.
Structural Engineer: Obelisk Engineering
Civil Engineer: Wallace Engineering
Clients: Labyrinth LLC
Year: 2018


AIACOC Peoples Choice Award Residential Architecture 2018
AIA Small Project Award 2019
AIA CSR Design Awards Honor Award small projects category 2019

The site is located at the transition between the typical residential fabric along 32nd Street and the commercial corridor along Classen Boulevard. A single shared entrance and carport buffer the commercial property to the west while reinforcing the idea of living together.

Description by architects

Responding in a sensitive and sustainable way to Oklahoma City’s imperative to increase density in existing residential neighbourhoods, Squirrel Park makes innovative use of modified shipping containers to create four single-family homes. Each offers around 1400 square feet of living space, its conventional interior layout contrasting with the modern, industrial exterior aesthetic. The design reinterprets the components of a traditional neighbourhood street on a smaller scale, encouraging outdoor living and interaction. The unique nature of the site as a park-like environment is enhanced through retention of existing mature trees, provision of shared outdoor spaces, new planting, and the addition of green roofs to assist energy efficiency and biodiversity.

"The owner, who runs a local restaurant where the staff is made up largely of individuals who have been incarcerated, believes in second chances as 'a way of giving back to the community'. This became a guiding principle in the design," said AHMM.

"The goal was to take a vacant site that had been a magnet for crime and transform it."

A total of 16 lightly used steel shipping containers – which had "been around the world once" according to AHHM – were used to make the four houses.

The three family homes not occupied by the developer will be rented at "competitive market rates".

Two containers make up the ground floor of each house, with two more cantilevered three metres over one end to create a sheltered porch below and a first-floor terrace off the master bedroom.

Oklahoma has a hot climate, so the steel containers have been painted white to reduce heat gain, while mirrored strips reflect the sun's glare.

Inside, the shipping containers have been converted into habitable spaces with a metal stud frame 2.5 centimetres off the steel frame encased in just under 13 centimetres of sprayable insulation foam.

"The extremely tight exterior envelope and high degree of insulation allow a significant reduction in tons of cooling when compared to a conventional wood-framed single family home," said AHMM.

As the site is low lying, the houses have been raised on pile footings to allow more surface drainage, with planted areas arranged to catch and absorb rainwater runoff.

The area is also prone to tornados, so the containers have been reinforced with steel tubes and welded down to embed plates in the foundations.

There is also an eight-person tornado shelter located beneath Squirrel Park.

Large windows have been punched into the steel shells to give every room an opening for light and breeze.

On the ground floor of each house there's a kitchen and bathroom off a hallway, with a full-width living space at the back that opens on to a private patio. Front porches with swing chairs provide shady spots for residents to sit.

Upstairs the two bed rooms are at either end, with bathroom in between.

Separate thermostats have been installed in the upstairs and downstairs levels to give occupants greater control over the temperature.

Drawings / Floor plans


About Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris makes buildings that are satisfying and enjoyable to use, beautiful to look at and easy to understand. We design very different buildings for very different people to use in very different ways. We believe in making places as well as buildings, that work over time and have lasting qualities intrinsic to their architecture.

For us, a project begins with a strategy, not a design solution. This strategy arises from understanding the fundamental drivers of a brief and the parameters, problems and opportunities it represents. It includes a richer definition of context as political, economic or social as well as architectural. We search for the chances to create good architecture in every site, budget and programme. And whilst this might involve a complexity of thought, it yields a simple, legible proposal that can flex in response to change but still remain true to the core of the brief. Only then does a design idea emerge, an idea that will be robust enough to survive the pressures that can be expected on the way to the finished building. Its execution may involve us drawing on previous projects, but always testing against the overall framework for the new.

We pursue a pragmatic, analytical and open working method that produces responsive, intelligent architecture. This clarity with which we work facilitates discussion between all parties, including clients, users, planners and contractors, and results in an aesthetic approach that is clear and logical. We innovate because we know that innovation is as much about finding simpler ways of doing things better as it is about finding new things to do.

For over twenty years, this way of seeing has allowed us to make architecture which resonates with clients and critics and responds to changing construction techniques. We design houses and housing, schools and sports buildings, exhibition spaces and offices and healthcare facilities, as well as the odd bus station and art gallery; interestingly, we are now building hybrids of many of the above.

Our work is also international, with overseas projects currently underway in Amsterdam, Ghana and Oklahoma City that feature commercial, retail, residential, amenity and educational elements.

We are part of a team, but most importantly we enjoy working with anybody who shares our belief that architecture can make a positive, inspirational but never overbearing contribution to the world around us.

London, United Kingdom

AddressMorelands, 5-23 Old St, London EC1V 9HL, United Kingdom

Bristol, United Kingdom

Address53-55 Queen Charlotte St, Bristol BS1 4HQ, United Kingdom

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

AddressRock Island Plow Building, 29 E Reno Ave #440, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, United States
Phone+1 405-600-1941

About SMITH Design Company

SMITH Design Company is led by husband and wife, Ryan and Erin Smith. Being a small design + build firm allows us to provide personal attention, strong management, and artistic expression to each and every project. By applying creative building materials and craftsmanship, we produce designs that create a unique experience for every user of a space. Originating from San Diego and Oklahoma City, we provide a collaborative effort that is unique to what is typically offered.

Address1011 NW 6th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73106, United States

Squirrel Park - AIA Award-Winning Project - Four Single-Family Shipping Container Homes (1400 square feet each), Oklahoma City