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.