It wouldn’t be a stretch to call LOT-EK one of the original pioneers of shipping-container prefab. Their Modular Dwelling Unit, a simple yet brilliant design, has now been on the scene since 2002, and serves as a great prefab archetype for an array of other module-based designs were now seeing gaining huge popularity and attention. The idea is simple: transform a single shipping container into a single dwelling unit that is complete in its flexibility, mobility, and scalability. Designed for the modern-day nomad, the MDU can easily be transported from one spot to the next, fully-loaded with all the live/work amenities you could ask for.

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Structurally, the MDU is a fully-functional, sturdy, and thoughtfully-constructed unit that combines both engineering prowess with design sensibility. The built-in furniture based system facilitates domestic functions from cooking and eating to more private spaces, storage, and leisure. As far as the interior goes, the space is divided into three sub-volume spaces to accommodate social, entertainment, and private functions. The potentially rigid space is actually quite hospitable, combining a long horizontal window in each of the sub-volumes with natural and brightly-colored plywood interior surfaces and fluorescent lighting. These simple construction method naturally lend themselves to multiple options and endless possibilities for customization.

Another inherent feature of such a modular construction approach is its multiplicity and potential to be stored and/or combined with other modules to create a larger-scale dwelling. Multiple MDU’s can be stored tiered steel racks that integrate elevators, stairs, power, data, water, and sewage systems to create a sort of plug-in-house infrastructure for the individual modules. We love LOT-EK’s description of the multiple MDU system:

“The vertical harbor is in constant transformation as MDUs are loaded and unloaded from the permanent rack. Like pixels in a digital image, temporary patterns are generated by the presence or absence of MDUs in different locations along the rack, reflecting the ever-changing composition of these colonies scattered around the globe.”

LOT-EK’s MDU is a great example of a singular prefab unit with far-reaching implications for larger-scale housing solutions. Combine that with colorful aesthetics, clean lines, and the reuse of industrial materials, and we’re sold.

Lot-ek first gained our attention with their recycled airplane fuselage library that generated a lot of excitement on Inhabitat back in 2006. However the Lot-ek office – led by the fabulously dynamic architecture duo of Ada Tolla and Guiseppe Lignano – does a lot more than just recycling old shipping containers and airplane fuselages. Lot-ek’s MO is to blur the boundaries between art, architecture, entertainment & information – rethinking the ways in which humans interact with industrial/technological culture.


+ Lot-ek Recycled Airplane Library