Two-story 2000 sqft Shipping Container Home, Arizona

3D Rendering
About Marie Jones
About Ecosa Institute

ProjectFlagstaff Container House
DesignEcosa Institute
ArchitectsTony Brown, Tom Hahn
DesignerMarie Jones
BuilderDan Miller
Area2,000 sq ft
LocationSouthside Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

This 2,000 sq ft shipping container home, the first shipping container home in Arizona, is made from six recycled shipping containers. Located in historic Southside Flagstaff, it is a two-story dwelling with a spacious atrium living-dining room, two baths, two bedrooms, two studio/offices, plant solarium, galley kitchen, and five decks with views of the San Francisco Peaks and the lively street life of this outdoor-loving and friendly university town.

Comfortable in wintertime, with passive solar and in-floor radiant heating, and in summertime, with natural mountain breezes, the shipping container house collects solar electric power and harvests rainwater and snowmelt. The insulation is biofoam, recycled denim, and exterior ceramic coating. Aluminum dual-pane aluminum windows and translucent insulated fiberglass fill the house with natural light.

The recipient of a Coconino County Sustainability Award, the shipping container home was designed by communication designer Marie Jones and architects Tony Brown and Tom Hahn of Ecosa Institute, and was built by Dan Miller. Construction was completed in 2011.

Description by Ecosa Institute

This project features recycled ocean-going shipping containers as the main structure; but the home will also include a whole host of other environmental and energy-efficient design ideas and materials. The home is though to be the first shipping-container-based house in Flagstaff, and one of the first multi-story container projects in Arizona.

The containers have been pre-fabricated in Phoenix and trucked to the northern Arizona site for their placement into the project.  With the containers placed and connected together, the home will be completed on-site under the direction of the owners.  The project is planned to be ready to be occupied in late 2010.

This project uses five 40-foot long "high-cube" containers for the main house, in a criss-cross plan that rises into an open, dayligh filled, two-story high atrium space.  This atrium will have operable windows to allow for natural "stack" ventilation, and will be capped off with a pitched roof angled for best performance with solar-electric photovoltaic panels. Across a raised deck from the main house, a detached 20-foor long, standard height container will house an artist studio. The entire project has been designed for rainwater and snowmelt harvesting by Barnabus Kane of TBK Associates in Prescott, Arizona, and the site will also be finished with a permaculture based, minimal water use, native landscaping.

The exterior of the containers will retain their robust steel exterior, and be refurbished and repainted with a super-insulating ceramic based paint, in forest and sunset colors. A "floating" steel interior stair, as well as the entry porch, will be suspended on steel rods from the containers above, accessing the second floor bedrooms and roof decks made from portions of an additional container. Super-insulated windows with recycled content frames will be set back in recycled steel "shade boxes" that will keep the sun and snow at bay.  The project will also include soy=based spray-foam insulation, radiant floor heating, soy-stained concrete floors, photovoltaic panels, recycled metal structure and roofing, translucent super-insulating glazing, graywater recovery, low-water use fixtures and appliances, recycled content and non-toxic finishes and energy efficient lighting.  site fencing and other landscape features will be made from portions of the containers that were cut away in fabrication.

This shipping container home in Arizona has been accepted by the new Coconino County Sustainable Building Program, and will aim to achieve an "Advanced" rating under the program upon completion.

Description by Jetsongreen

This unique, green family residence was constructed in Flagstaff, Arizona in March 2011. The home measures 2,000-square-feet and features 2 loft bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 office rooms, and a storage room, and a green house/solarium. The residence was made from six recycled shipping containers. Apart from that, the home was also designed with long term sustainability and energy efficiency in mind. The concept for the home was developed by Ecosa Institute, while in 2010 the house also received an award from the Coconino County Sustainable Building Program. The home took about two years to build.

The south facing house is built on a narrow urban infill lot, which is designated as a flood plain area. Due to the federal regulation requirements the house is lifted to 3-1/2 feet above ground level. The home rests on a foundation of forty concrete piers. The shipping containers use to build the residence were obtained and partially fabricated in Phoenix, then transported to the building site in Flagstaff on trailers. On site, they were crane-lifted onto the piers and welded into place. The interior was then furred with wood lumber in the ceilings and steel lumber in the walls. The electrical and plumbing systems are located inside the furred walls.

All the electrical needs of the household are provided for by a 3.6 kW on-grid solar system, which was designed and installed by AEA Inc. The water management and harvesting system was designed by TBKA Landscape Architects and installed by Northern Arizona Pump. It consists of gutters in the upper levels, which directs water into 2 large tanks, which can then be pumped to the garden. The water from the lower roofs and the rest of the site is directed to the garden by way of a grading plan. The garden is planted with indigenous, drought adapted plants, while recycled broken concrete and urbanite from the home’s construction site was used to designate the planting areas.

The floor and inside walls are insulated with closed-cell foam, and the ceilings with recycled denim, which provides R values of 20-24. The exterior of the containers was coated with SuperTherm ceramic coating that acts to reflect heat and cold. This provides the home with a long lasting finish, and works to prevent condensation inside the home. Furthermore, the roofs were sprayed with foam and covered with an impermeable membrane and fitted with a sand finish.

The windows and glass doors are thermally broken aluminum dual pane. The Kalwall insulated fiberglass walls allow additional daylight into the main living area space. The windows on the south side of the house let in enough sun heat to warm the concrete floor in the main living area. Apart from that, the main floor of the house is heated by an in-floor radiant heating system, which utilizes a high-efficiency dedicated gas water heater. The large openings from the lower level into the second story loft areas allow the thus produced heat to rise and warm these spaces as well.

Additionally needed warmth in the bathroom and other second story areas is obtained via high-efficiency electric heaters. The home does not have an air conditioning system, so all ventilation and cooling of the house is achieved through a skylight, the windows and several fans installed throughout the house. Special shading systems have also been installed to control the temperature in the home.

3D Rendering


About Marie Jones

Marie Jones's work in design began after graduating from Goucher College, a design studio internship, and a graduate course in integrative studies. She subsequently worked in design studios and corporate communication before starting Ideahouse in 1996.

Her clients have included businesses and nonprofit organizations. Beginning with identity and promotional print work, she has moved increasingly toward projects with environmental-, community- and cultural-awareness missions.

Words and images hold equal importance in her approach to design. She sees her communication design role as a flexible one, adding listening skills and creative problem-solving abilities to any team that she joins.


About Ecosa Institute

Ecosa Design Studio

For the past 18 years, Tom Hahn has been a leader in the movement toward a more responsible environmental approach to architecture. As an assistant professor in the Arizona State University School of Architecture he brought an intellectual rigor to his students pushing them to think in complex way about the meaning of design and its relationship to its impact on resources. As the founding principal of Sol Source Architecture he has produced a strong body of environmentally appropriate building and has, in addition, not only been the designer but also the contractor. Tom’s strong commitment to the creation of environmentally and economically sound design strategies and his expertise in construction method and techniques brings a unique approach to all Ecosa Design Studio projects. One of the leaders in the rediscovery of straw bale building and project architect for one of the first and most technically advanced sustainable projects –the APS showcase home in Phoenix - he has demonstrated a commitment and depth of knowledge far beyond his peers.

Address224-1/2 S. Montezuma St. Prescott, AZ 86303, United States
Phone+1 928 541 1002
Project Website

Ecosa Institute

Immerse Yourself in an Intensive Semester.  Recognized by American Institute of Architects (AIA) and offered to both matriculating and non-matriculating students. 

Master the Foundations of Regenerative Ecological Design

Students develop and hone their skills in project planning, self-discipline, collaboration, creativity, and the design process as they work individually and in diverse groups on multiple design challenges. 

ECOSA's core curriculum is based on an interwoven tapestry of 7 “Threads” 

  • Ecological Design Disciplines
  • Technical Design Skills and Technologies
  • Ecological Literacy 
  • Sustainable Community Development
  • Communication Design 
  • Whole Systems Design
  • Art and Culture 

Learn from the Ecologies of Arizona

Field trips are considered a core part of the program You can expect 3 or 4 out-of-town field trips during each program. Overnight accommodations include sleeping under the stars and group campground cooking.  

  • 3-Day Aboriginal Living Skills trip with instructor Cody Lundin
  • Sunset Crater, Wupatki, Cameron Trading Post, Hopi Reservation
  • Tucson – Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac, rainwater harvesting and ecological living with Brad Lancaster 
  • Arcosanti, Cosanti and Taliesin West 
  • Arizona’s Central Highlands - the Granite Dells, Prescott National Forest and lakes, Glassford Hill, Prescott Valley, Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte.

Study with Industry Leaders

Your intructors are leaders in the fields of: ecology, open source design, interior design, alternative technologies, urban planning, community design, alternative building systems, biomimicry, sustainability strategies, permaculture, and the patterns of nature, including:   

  • Pliny Fisk III, Center for Maximum Building Potential Systems, Austin, TX
  • Jesse Hernreich, Oakhaven Permaculture Center 
  • Mark Lakeman, Communitecture and City Repair, Portland, OR 
  • Mark Riegner, Professor of Evolutionary Theory (Patterns in Nature) 
  • Brad Lancaster, Rainwater Harvester, Tucson, AZ 
  • Michael Ben-Eli, Sustainability Laboratory, New York, NY 
  • Cynthia Fishman, Biomimicry and Denver Does Design, Denver, CO

Get Experience Working on Real Projects 

One of the unique aspects of the ECOSA Certificate is project work. Check out our Project Page and read more about the varied and interesting projects accomplished by past ECOSA students.

Project work is your chance to operate in the “real world” with actual clients, budgets and demands. Critical thinking, self-motivation and collaboration are the keys to a successful team as you listen to and assess the client’s needs, develop appropriate strategies and plans, and craft a solid visual and oral presentation.
Address 11300 W Gurley St #2, Prescott, AZ 86303, United States
Address 2220 Grove Ave, Prescott, AZ 86301 USA

Two-story 2000 sqft Shipping Container Home, Arizona