Casa P406 - 1200 sq ft Shipping Container Summer House, Chile

Floor plans / drawings
Construction process
About Orfali & Ehrenfeld

ProjectCasa P406
ArchitectureOrfali & Ehrenfeld - Ignacio Orfali, Felipe Ehrenfeld
EngineeringFrancisco Ottone V
CollaboratorsJoaquín Germain, Victoria Riquelme
Area115 sq m (1200 sq ft)
ContainersFour 40 ft
ManufacturersArauco, Kitchencenter, Dap Ducasse, Ledstudio, Trimble Navigation, Servicontainer, Wasser
PhotographyGonzálo Carrasco A
LocationQuilimari, Chile

Description by architects

Located in Quilimarí, 25km from Los Vilos, a historic town in which cultural remnants dating back to the colony can be distinguished. The project consisted of the design and construction of a summer house located on the slopes of the "puntiagudo" hill, on irregular terrain and difficult to access site. These were main conditions along with the difficult logistics involved in finding labor for the construction of the project. To address it, we think of the modular shipping container structure, to be able to prefabricate the house in the workshop in order to limit the construction process on the ground. Four high cube shipping containers were used, due to their greater free height. Of these, 3 shipping containers were cut in half, joined by dismantling the side panels to form a single environment, with 70m² (750ft²) area. With them we build the lower floor, whose program is mainly intended for the public area of the shipping container home. We place a glazed façade looking for the view of the valley and the distant sea; Its predominantly south orientation left the house with little solar radiation, which is why we developed a continuous skylight adjoining the north wall, so as not to deprive the house of sunlight.

On the upper floor we install the remaining shipping container, which we use for the bedrooms. This space, when complete, extends beyond the first floor with a generous cantilever. To achieve a comfortable habitability, taking into account only 235 centimeters (7.7 feet) wide of the container, we had to remove one of its side panels to attach a V-shaped extension that added 150 centimeters (4.9 feet) to the width at its widest point. As a result of this expansion, as the skin of the container was lost, we installed an exo-structure lined with 2x2” impregnated pine in a proportion of 50%. This allows us, first, to shade and avoid overheating in the summer time, when the shipping container house is most often used, and second, to separate the second level formally and aesthetically from the lower floor – it is like a sculpture that needs a pedestal to enhance its value.

The interior coatings are common and simple: vitrified pine tongue-and-groove wood for the floor, and a white lead color was applied to the walls and ceiling. We think of the furniture in work, counter, bookcase and stairs as dual elements that help to build the interior spatiality while fulfilling their own function: they are sculptural objects that segment and limit the space in zones, but also decorate and fill by mere presence.

Construction process

Floor plans / drawings

About Orfali & Ehrenfeld

Felipe Ehrenfeld: “Chilean architecture has its own way, it is very much based on how it manages resources, on how it turns the screw on problems, many times of budget or perhaps less-skilled labor, etc. In this case, the project seemed to gamble too much on being able to generate definitions that were easy to develop, that everything was possible, moreover, in a place that was far away and achieve a result with the resources that were available (little manpower, limited time, among others), that is why we opted for architecture that could be developed in one place and then take it to its destination, among other things”.

Felipe Ehrenfeld is an architect from Viña del Mar University (as is his partner Ignacio Orfali), he graduated in 2009 and until 2021 he was an active teacher at the UVM, thanks to this link with the University, some students were able to participate in the shipping container house project. “Several students have asked for internships and the space to continue learning in a more professional environment and since I know how they work (because I have been well present in their process), I invite them to participate in this. It has been a very good instance because the students see reality here in situ and how projects are solved. The main benefit of this work with the students in practice is that they were able to see up close how problems related to an architectural practice are resolved”.

Finally, the professional referred to the Viña del Mar University, “the tools provided by the UVM are the ones that allow these projects to be tackled and this greatly facilitates the problem in this area. For example, the dialogue between professionals, the career mesh, computational tools, calculation branches and also project management. In this case, one of the things that was really vital (besides the architectural design), is how project management was introduced, that is, thinking about how to move things, how not to get out of a certain cost, that implies that there is a approach to understanding how a work develops. Today the UVM student in his graduate profile has two internships and that helps to develop this expertise”.

AddressAv. Los Carrera 1855, Quilpué, Valparaíso, Chile
Phone 1+56 9 9940 4143
Phone 2+56 9 6422 1000

Casa P406 - 1200 sq ft Shipping Container Summer House, Chile