If you were to look up “mad genius” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Adam Kalkin. One glance through his vast portfolio and it’s clear that this is not the work of an ordinary mind. The bulk of Kalkin’s large-scale work involves shipping containers and steel Butler buildings. His cargo dwellings were featured last December in the New York Times and won an instantly fanatical audience (ourselves included).



Of particular interest to Inhabitat today is Khalkin’s Quik House – a prefab housing kit made up of recycled shipping containers. The prefab house can be assembled in 8 weeks into a boxy 2000 sq ft house which includes three bedrooms and two and one-half baths. At $76,000 its one of the cheapest and quickest prefab options currently on the market, and although we’ve not seen any real photographs of the Quik House, Adam Kalkin’s other recycled cargo houses prove that the man knows what he’s doing when it comes to turning a metal box into someone’s little slice of heaven.

+ $76,000 from Adam Kalkin

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Moving up the chain of artiness is Adam Kalkin’s Push Button House. This single shipping container steel box opens on automatic hinges like a Murphy bed, revealing gorgeous – if compact – living quarters arranged within. We had a chance to see the unfolding action live at the Mobile Living Exhibition in May. Each side of the container produced a complete room, firmly adhered to the floor. (I had to wonder about the toilet water…)

Kalkin also dedicates a significant portion of his cargo container concept design to refugee housing. On his site, Architecture and Hygiene (also the name of the book anthologizing his work), he has a number of drawings of stacked container units forming a large-scale shelter around a courtyard. The building incorporates used military parachutes and vertical farming.

Perhaps best of all is his book, Architecture and the Velvet Fist of Happiness. Viewable in its entirety online, this is prime evidence of Kalkin’s extraordinary virtuosity — and though it’s free, a note invites contributions toward the development of refugee and disaster relief housing (though the practicalities of the fundraising are admittedly unclear).

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Kalkin’s creative arsenal seems to have more corners and secret rooms than any one could every fully explore. The architectural works he’s completed are as sophisticated and elegant as anything we’ve seen, while the hand-scrawled drawings in his digital diaries display an altogether different sensibility.

According to a magazine I happened upon a few days ago (and sadly didn’t keep), Kalkin’s newest plan is a mobile museum packed into a car. The museum will “lease space” in much the same way Rebar’s PARK(ing) space project or Rakowitz’ P(LOT) did — with coins in a meter. The museum will open wherever parking can be found, and close when the doors are locked. A little bit nomadic innovation, a little bit urban intervention – sounds like a project to keep an eye on…