Coates Design

All-in-One Ecopak House Incorporates its Own Shipping Container Into its Structure

by , 06/18/12

Seattle Architect Matthew Coates, President of Coates Design Architects, has teamed up with Aircraft Structural Engineer James Green of Building Container LLC, to create a container home like no other – the Eco Pak. Imagine a container that can be delivered to nearly any site on the globe and contained within are the structural components to build a house. Better yet….there’s no need to return the container; it becomes an integral part of the structure. The Coates-Green team turns the idea of container homes inside out, literally. The traditional container home uses the box as shelter; the team’s improved concept integrates the container into the structure of the home.

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The container used to ship the Eco Pak may be reborn as the home’s kitchen, living room or bedroom. The original idea came about when Green designed and built a home in remote Turkey on a site stipulating that a concrete foundation could not be used. Using a shipping container, the conventional concrete foundation was replaced with removable frames to support the container and extended framework, forming the structure for the house.

Green was recently granted a US patent and has international patents pending. He selected Coates Design Architects as the project’s designer because of the firm’s experience with innovative, modular and sustainable housing. The team intends to adapt the steel-structured designs to suit multiple markets: affordable housing, remote/off-grid housing, emergency housing, and even luxury versions. The first prototype is scheduled for completion by early 2013.

Matthew Coats stated: “The “Eco-Pak” home changes the way we think about modular housing. Traditional container houses, designed to hold cargo, have not been highly successful because they’re claustrophobic and costly to modify – eventually the cost-benefit ratio falls apart. We are doing something ENTIRELY different….it’s one thing to renovate the inside of a shipping box, but it’s another to create an Eco friendly home that uses the box as structure.”

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1 Comment

  1. Peter Sill June 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

    It’s fantastic to see the continued interest and uptake in container based construction around the world.

    The creativity and continued innovation that designers and owner builders show with these types of projects is truly inspirational.

    I would however make one small point about this article…

    The developers here are quoted as saying that “traditional container houses have not been highly successful because they’re claustrophobic and costly to modify”

    Honestly now there have been enough well designed and brilliantly executed container homes built over the past 20 years ( many have been showcased right here ) for even a casual observer of the movement to understand that we are a long way past explaining that a container home is not living in a 20 x 8 ft steel box

    Claustrophobic ? – Hardly

    If anyone needs a quick review of “sucessful” container home projects check out these http://www.containerhome.info/30-most-influential-container-homes.html

    Costly to modify ? Perhaps

    But there is nothing to suggest that is “variation” addresses that in any meaningful way – beyond the idea of factory based production and that is something that is true of every container based design.

    This is a great idea but at the end of the day its a very innovative and useful solution to a thin band of opportunity not a solution to the challenges holding back wholesale adoption.

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