Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tucson Steel Shipping Container House

This new 2-story, 1,200 square-foot home under construction on Mountain Avenue is a first for Tucson.  The basic concept is to upcycle used shipping containers for the housing structure, cutting out interior walls, ceilings, floors as necessary to create normal open spaces inside.  It is supposed to be less expensive than traditional construction.

I stopped by the construction site this morning to take a first hand look and snap a few pictures.

Needless to say, there are differences of opinion regarding this type of construction, appearance, neighborhood placement, etc.   According to the news, some neighbors hate it, while others like it.

This home is still under construction too, so final appearance and landscaping is yet to come.

Here is a view looking Southwest across Mountain Avenue (below), you can barely see the new construction to the left of the large tree.

and looking Northwest across Mountain Avenue (below)...  You can tell the construction is taking place on a relatively small infill lot.  Overall size is about right for the lot, patio, parking.  If I was the neighbor, I wouldn't like the two story windows looking down on my yard, but that is a normal challenge/issue with housing infill construction and city permits -- nothing unique to this type of construction.

Some shipping container houses cover up the normal appearance of the containers while others leave them as-is.  My understanding from a news report is that the exterior will ultimately be a series of flat panels with a contemporary look.   [I'll be sure to drop back by to take pictures once it is fully completed.]

A White-winged Dove is already scoping out the new house, probably pondering what the landscape installation will look like.   This is actually quite a departure for the shipping container, since earlier in it's life if would often have been seen with a crane sitting on top of it.

I was able to look in a window but wasn't able to take any useable pictures -- looks very nice inside so far, very much like a normal home of this size.   I've seen a number of normal stick and board houses around town of similar size and height.   This looks like a very well constructed home and I imagine it will be very popular and have no trouble attracting buyers/renters.

I've always been intrigued by energy efficient / small houses set in really nice landscaping or natural settings (Henry Beston's The Outermost House anyone?), so I find new and different housing construction techniques really interesting.

I think once final construction and landscaping is completed this will become yet another uniquely appreciated house in an already somewhat eclectic (I mean that in a good way) neighborhood.

If you are interested in seeing the interior possibilities of shipping container homes, here is a website with some great outside/inside pictures of a six container home up in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Would you/could you live in one?  I think I could, especially with a nice shady green patio area outside.  It will be interesting to see how this style of housing catches on as a construction technique and how it is accepted or rejected by neighbors and communities.   There are many examples of people/communities being very reluctant to accept new styles of housing construction and/or appearances in the past.  Personally I think this style of home has a lot of possibilities and there are a lot variations that could be done to present different types of external appearances.

This Tucson Steel Shipping Container House is a project of Anderson Workshop.


  1. Very interesting. I wonder what it would be like to be inside one during a heavy hailstorm!

  2. @Bruce, I wouldn't think it would be too bad, these are supposed to be insulated well -- the specs for the big house in Flagstaff mention a foam roof as well. Not sure about this one. But far from living inside a metal box. It is interesting.

  3. Please do show follow up photos and if possible inside photos.

  4. Hi, I'v been toying with the idea for some time now and now think after seeing yours, i have finally decided to act... Awesome look! and will definately be stronger than stick building.. Please keep us posted on the progress. Thank you, Darrel.

  5. That's actually pretty good. Nice turn out. How did the inside came out?

  6. I sure wish to see the interior design of this home!


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