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A Fire-Resistant Bushland Home Made From Shipping Containers

Architecture

Repurposing shipping containers can be an efficient way of creating a robust, affordable, and sustainably-minded home. 

At the same time, working with these pre-designed volumes comes with challenges, all of which have been overcome in the aptly named Container House in Church Point, NSW, by Rama Architects and built by Elo Silo.

Working within the containers’ existing dimensions, the architects maintained their structural integrity, stacking them to form a bushfire-resistant home that treads lightly on the landscape.

31st March, 2022

Container House is an aptly name new home in Church Point, NSW, made from repurposed shipping containers. Photo – Toby Peet

Repurposing shipping containers is a valuable way of creating a robust, efficient, more affordable, and sustainably-minded home. Photos – Toby Peet

‘Because the containers are set dimensions, the layout of rooms and the spaces required for these rooms proved challenging, while maintaining the integrity of the containers. Plumbing, insulations, window openings, cavities for services all had to be accurately set out prior to fabrication of the containers,’ says architect Thomas Martin. Photo – Toby Peet

Accompanying materials including hardwood timber, fibre cement sheeting, and metal roof sheeting were chosen for their bushfire rating, durability, and low-maintenance qualities. Photo – Toby Peet

The expression of raw materials, juxtaposed within the native and extraordinary landscape, are the cornerstones of this innovative design. Photo – Toby Peet

Treating the surrounding bushland landscape with the utmost respect was a priority of the project. Photo – Toby Peet

The interiors are light and minimal, softening the micaceous oxide painted containers. Photos– Toby Peet

Craning the containers onto the steep site also required closing the road, which could only be done at night. Photo – Toby Peet

‘Shipping containers can dramatically decrease the cost of a project due to the minimal additions of structural engineering required (the containers have their own level of structural adequacy), but most importantly due to the speediness of erecting the structure of the home, which leads to less labour, less holding costs, and ultimately greater cost savings.’ Photos – Toby Peet

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 31st March 2022

‘Shipping containers can dramatically decrease the cost of a project due to the minimal additions of structural engineering required…but most importantly due to the speediness of erecting the structure of the home.’ 

Container House by Rama Architects started as a vacant bushland site in Church Point, NSW, owned by two creative and innovative clients. The couple came to architects Daniel Raymond and Thomas Martin with a vision to build a new house made from shipping containers. 

‘The desire was not only from an exciting aesthetic that could be created, but also from an affordability and time effective aspect,’ says Thomas. ‘Shipping containers can dramatically decrease the cost of a project due to the minimal structural engineering required (the containers have their own level of structural adequacy), but most importantly due to the speediness of erecting the structure of the home, which leads to less labour, fewer holding costs, and ultimately greater cost savings.’

However, no project is without its challenges, and while using shipping containers was ultimately beneficial, they presented their own difficulties. Thomas explains, ‘Because the containers are set dimensions, the layout of rooms and the spaces required for these rooms proved challenging while maintaining the integrity of the containers. Plumbing, insulations, window openings, and cavities for services all had to be accurately set out prior to fabrication of the containers.’

Craning the containers onto the steep site also required closing the road, which could only be done at night.  

Treating the surrounding bushland landscape with the utmost respect was another priority of this project. By elevating the structure off the ground, Rama Architects and builder Elo Silo were able to protect the majority of existing native trees, while creating a visual connection to the water body, Pittwater, located just down the hill.

Accompanying materials including hardwood timber cladding, fibre cement sheeting, and metal roof sheeting were chosen for their bushfire rating, durability, and low-maintenance qualities suitable to the site, which is prone to falling branches and stormwater run-off. It’s the amalgamation of these differing materials into a beautifully refined home that Thomas is most proud of.

‘Shipping containers, timber battens, expressed FC sheets, and steel-framed structures together sound quite jumbled, but it’s the celebration of their raw properties with an emphasis on the vertical expression that harmonises them together’ he explains. These raw materials, juxtaposed within the lush, extraordinary local landscape, are the cornerstones of this innovative home design.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net