Hurricane-Proof Shipping Container House Built after 2017 Category 5 Hurricane, Florida

It is no secret that stacked shipping containers on large ocean ships successfully withstand extremely strong winds on the high seas. Therefore, the strength properties of this shipping container house allow it to withstand the next hurricanes like Category 5 Hurricane Irma in 2017. Climate change makes us think that Florida will still have to deal with similar terrible hurricanes in the future.

3D Model
Construction Process
Location and Contact Info

ProjectPrince Road Container House
Builder and ownerRob DePiazza
Area150 sq m (1600 sq ft)
Containers9 x 40 ft
LocationSt. Augustine, Florida, United States

When Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September 2017, Rob DePiazza lost everything. An old tree crashed into the house of the artist from St. Augustine and made it uninhabitable. But instead of giving up, De Piazza drew fresh artistic inspiration from the disaster and turned a long-held dream into reality: to build a house out of containers.

Description by owner

I purchased the original house that resides on this property back in 1988. In 2017, Hurricane Irma caused a large oak tree to snap at the base and destroy the house (while we were in it!), which led to the construction of my current home, the Prince Road Container House. Within two days of the house being destroyed I made the decision to build a container house. Choosing to build a house out of shipping containers meant I had to serve as the general contractor hiring all the sub-contractors and more importantly do much of the work myself. This wasn’t a problem since I had rehabbed a 1908 commercial building occupied by my screen-printing business and other residential projects over the years. Planning unexpectedly took nine months, at which point I ran out of the housing money provided by my insurance policy; this put further strain on funding. Construction was finally completed February 2020.

The overall theme of the hurricane-proof shipping container house is to reveal and celebrate materials and construction techniques that are typically concealed. It starts with the exposed corrugated steel exterior walls of the container from which the paint was removed to reveal the raw core ten steel and the natural corrosion. On the inside I revealed key interior walls that did not require insulation. With the exception of the painted wall in the main living space, I retained the original interior paint of the container along with the patina acquired over the many years of its use; the scuffs, scrapes, and dents that tell the story of the many transatlantic crossings made and the cargo transported.

The list of details of the Prince Road Container House is endless, many of which are intended to give pause to the routine of daily living; from the custom hanging lights I made from ’50s era streetlights to the mild steel kitchen backsplash I installed to display the hundreds of refrigerator magnets we’ve collected from our travels around the world, and finally the “upside down” container whose floor is now the ceiling. In the end, I wanted to create a home that’s not just a house, but a vibrant, cheerful, creative, and inviting space that celebrates living and doesn’t take itself too seriously; a coda I have tried to live by for as long as I can remember.

Common Ground - World’s Largest Modular Shipping Container Shopping Mall Complex, South Korea

COMMON GROUND is South Korea’s first and the world’s largest shipping container shopping mall complex built with 200 shipping containers. It redefines the conventions of retail platforms by reinterpreting the role of culture, and focusing on connecting people for the sake of creating meaningful value for all involved.

Floor Plans / Drawings
Brand Development, Brand Design, Visual System Design
About Urbantainer
About Office 53427

ProjectCommon Ground
ArchitectUrbantainer, Office 53427
Area5300 sqm
Structural EngineerPAN Structural Engineering Inc., Gaon ENG
BuilderKolon Environmental Service Co.Ltd.
LandscapeLIVESCAPE, Seungjong Yoo
LocationSeoul, South Korea

Description by architects

Common Ground is the result of an experiment of revitalising unused land in the middle of the city. By applying prefab methods, e.g. producing modules in a factory, transporting them to the construction site and assembling them on-site, it was possible to reduce the construction time of the 5300 m2 building to five months.

In order to maximise the usage efficiency of the elongated rectangular shaped land, the architectural form is based on a center square connecting two buildings.

At the traffic-heavy main street side, container modules were stacked to give the building exterior more impact and draw attention from passers-by. The mass on the opposite side has been kept open to naturally connect to the visitor flow of the surrounding environment and invite people in more easily.

The two buildings, STREET MARKET and MARKET HALL, are both based on container architecture but are designed with different characteristics in mind.

The containers of the Street Market are arranged in a protruding configuration, highlight the individual modules and give the exterior more impact. The Market Hall is made of 12m long-span container modules which are used as separated shopping booths. Same- sized modules as roof of the hall create a usable terrace area on the third floor.

Platoon Kunsthalle and Pop Kudamm - Mixed Use Shipping Container Temporary Buildings

About Graft
About Platoon

H-Container Home: 40 ft Shipping Container + Extended Space for Kitchen Cabinets + Covered Deck, Argentina

Floor Plans / Drawings
About Parada Cantilo Estudio

ArchitectParada Cantilo Estudio
Area36 sqm (390 sqft)
Containers1 x 40 ft
LocationManuel B. Gonnet, Argentina
PhotographyLuis Barandiaran

Description by architects

Within a family property, we needed to build a minimum dwelling for one of the family members.

On a plot of limited dimensions, a "container" is located with the challenge of being able to transform it into a space that fulfills all the functions required by inhabiting through a series of operations.

The dimensions were determined by the study of the existing artifact, and directly influenced the design, its geometry, horizontal and longitudinal development, creating the pattern of another intervention which was attached to the "container" on both sides by two prisms. One fulfills the services function (extended space for kitchen cabinets and bathroom area), and the other serves as a link between the outer space, giving a sense of continuity to the social part of the cabin (covered deck).

The other areas (living and sleeping) are specified through the service nucleus that articulates the uses of the shipping container home.

Regarding its materiality, the interior space is a warm feeling box defined through a eucalyptus plating on all its sides. Inside it, the white service volume.

The transformation of a given object conceived not for an inhabitable space was a challenge. In that space, we had to hold the life of a person according to their way, trying to achieve spatial continuity throughout its journey and ensuring the interior-exterior relationship as a design strategy.

The Cargo District - Shipping Container Community, Wilmington, NC

Coworx At The Cargo District
Auggie & Zo - Shipping Container Boutique in The Cargo District
The Plant Outpost
Alcove Beer Garden
Location and contact info
About Romero Architecture
About LS Smith

ProjectThe Cargo District
ArchitectRomero Architecture
General contractorLS Smith, Inc
LocationWilmington, North Carolina, United States

Romero Architecture

Drawing inspiration from French architect Le Corbusier and his idea that a home is a machine for living, Romero worked to bring that theory and aesthetic into the design of The Cargo District.

From unique mixed-use projects to local headquarters, the region has been growing with the work of many innovative building designers such as Romero.

He’s among the pool of local architects bringing unique touches to developments that are changing the Wilmington skyline and leaving a more modern mark on the city’s commercial architecture through either building reuse, expansion or new construction.

Starting in 2016, Romero joined forces with Leslie Smith, the developer who had the vision for The Cargo District - Shipping Container Community at South 16th and Queen streets. Romero helped bring Smith’s ideas to light.

“It’s a bold development,” said Romero, who brought his architecture firm to Wilmington in 2006.

His work with Smith on The Cargo District brought this urban mixed-use development that played off the trend of using shipping container architecture in a commercial setting.

The project includes nine, one-bedroom live/work units, each with nearly 600 square feet of living space. The building’s key pieces – the 20- foot shipping containers – cost about $30,000 each to rehab for this job, he said.

In his plans, Romero sketched windows at the container’s end to bring light into the spaces, in addition to slot windows, which were designed to minimize cuts to the container’s steel structure. The wooden floors of the container were also refurbished, he said.

There were a lot of city zoning and planning issues “because they have certain codes in this district that won’t allow exposed container sides,” Romero said of the challenges. “So, I had to come up with a way to semi-disguise it but not completely cover the container because we were trying to celebrate the container too.”

“This city has a long history of ships and water and shipping containers … and so there’s something unique in that it ties that history to the modern usage of these things, and I think that’s rare,” Romero said. “The area is somewhat industrial, and that vibe carries through this project nicely.”

1600 sqft Modular Shipping Container Home on Pillars/Stilts on a Steep Lot, Stockholm, Sweden

Floor Plans / Drawings
Construction Process
About Builders/Owners
About Måns Tham Arkitektkontor

ArchitectureMåns Tham Arkitektkontor
Structural EngineerEgil Bartos, Ramboll
Area150 sqm (1600 sqft)
LocationStockholm, Sweden
PhotographyStaffan Andersson

Description by architects

This 1600 sqft shipping container home was built of eight assembled, 20′ and 40′ re-used, high cube shipping containers. The house is built on a steep lot next to a lake, outside of Stockholm. There was a ban on dynamite for the site and there was no room for a slab, just a steep canyon where a lot of rainwater flows toward the lake. That is why the modular home stands on pillars or stilts and land light on the terrain. The structural walls of the containers allowed the upper level to be larger than the entrance level footprint. This way the building adjusts to the V-shaped natural canyon of the site. The clients, a truck driver and a therapist with three kids, have built the house mostly by themselves with big help from their father and father in law who is a skilled welder and used to run a mechanic workshop. The interior is a composition of rare finds and re-used building components.

A shipping container is not a great starting point for a home because of its limited width, 2,4 m. Also, as soon as you take out any part of the corrugated walls between two containers to make a wider room they lose their structural strength. Therefore we had to put a lot of effort into deciding which walls to cut and which to save so that we could use the containers with as little additional structure as possible.

The husband worked for a demolition company and is an avid mechanic with a love for old customized American cars. Re-use and alteration became the way to build the house, much in line with the custom car culture. Salvaged from demolition sites around Stockholm, components like timber planks, metal boards, staircases in wood and steel, and parts of old kitchens were re-used and installed after slight modifications.

Each architectural detail was drawn directly from the raw material that was found. Trust and dialogue rather than standard solutions characterized the building process that included many discussions on-site between the architect, client/builder, and structural engineer. Quick hand drawings complemented the drawing set.

The original proposal and plan were never changed though. In a housing scheme, the plan drawings and the flow of the plan, the ability to always walk towards the light and to have surprising views and diagonals, is regardless if you make a container house or a wood frame house, very important.

This is a modest home for a family with three kids so each square meter had to be planned carefully. The entrance level has a den and a guest bedroom, laundry, and a master bath with a view. The upper level has a living-dining and terrace towards the view and bedrooms in the back towards the forest.

The top container has two functions, a look-out mezzanine where the kids can find solitude but still be around, and also as a light shaft that brings the midday sun into the north-facing living room. Even though the harsh site faces north the living-dining room is flooded with direct sun and the roof terrace has a great evening sun location.

The upper level is connected to the pine tree forest behind the house by a free-spanning eight-meter steel truss sky bridge. The rectilinear world of stacked containers meets the natural form of the hillside. The modular shipping container home stands on steel pillars/stilts on concrete plinths. This eliminated the problem with large amounts of rainwater that flows down the steep hillside. This is very explicit during heavy rains seen from the lower bathroom. It has one big window facing the zen-like view of the canyon rock at the backside of the house. A small openable window to the left makes it possible to hear the birds outside when taking a bath.

The subdividing mullions of each window, together with exterior add-ons that were needed to make the containers up to code (such as railings, chimneys, and water dispensers) were all designed to give the house its own logic and proportions. A composition that dissolves and goes beyond the absolute symmetry of shipping containers.

There is a point where the stacked containers, with everything that is added and modified, cease to be containers and instead becomes an assembled building fixed in a landscape. This point interests the architects and guided the designers through many design challenges with the house.

Portable Cabin - Two Containers Year-Round Living Space / Remote Workplace and Two Containers Storage Space, Poland

Floor Plans / Drawings
About wiercinski-studio

ProjectPortable Cabin
Area60 sqm
Containers4 x 40 ft
LocationPoznan, Poland
PhotographyONI Studio

Portable Сabin is a year-round living space made of two adapted shipping containers above storage space, which is also made of two shipping containers. Owners are a couple of brave people who are familiar with temporary architecture and are interested in searching for interesting and difficult to adapt spaces. The implementation of a Portable Cabin as a remote workplace turned out to be a great response to the present times. The facility is currently located at the community garden next to the Szelagowski Park in Poznan, and in the future, it is to go to the forest and ultimately stand on the water. Containers were fully prepared in the production hall, while its transport and assembly on the plot took one day, and only the last internal finishing works remained on site.

The cabin was partially placed on the roof of previously standing containers, which serve as storage space for a garden. Due to the sloping terrain and views, the solid was shifted by half its length, creating a large terrace on one side facing the nearby river, and on the other side, it came closer to the plot, lowering the height needed to enter it. The cabin consists of two cargo shipping containers, 12 m x 2.5 m and 2.9 m high.

By arranging the function inside, which includes a living room with a kitchen, place to work, bedroom, and bathroom with bathtub, it was possible to obtain a total of 54 m2 of usable space and 24 m2 of space among greenery on the terrace. The walls of the portable cabin are insulated with spray foam and finished with birch plywood, which gives a unique atmosphere inside. By using appropriate materials, it was possible to obtain 2.6 m of internal height in the light and to hide the lintel created when connecting container frames.

The characteristic facade made of thick trapezoidal sheet metal was intentionally left to show the sincerity of the raw construction material. The walls are painted a dim green color which blends the object with the surroundings. In the living area overlooking the river, large balcony windows have been installed in the places where the metal gates were located. On the side elevations, windows have been placed in the middle of the wall height to leave as many interior arrangement options as possible.

Openings and windows are squares that stylistically fit perfectly into a simple shape and, depending on their function, combine into double and triple configurations. The facility is complemented by designed external steel stairs and a characteristic arched balustrade on the terrace. The furniture shown in the photos, i.e. a bench, a table and a chair with a round backrest, are also of our design.

The great advantage of this year-round living space and remote workplace is its mobility. In this case, the shipping container home ceases to be a property tied to a specific place, but it can change its location along with the changes accompanying the life of the owners.