Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: Container House by Leger Wanaselja


We’ve featured a variety of different shipping container homes, from a quick emergency shelter, to LOT-EK’s container home kit, student housing , and even an entire container city in London. One thing’s for sure, there isn’t a shortage of uses for containers as shelter, especially for those who like that super industrial architecture aesthetic. Leger Wanaselja Architecture finished their Container House at the close of last year, bringing a more traditional look to the container composed residence, located on top of a hill in an East Bay suburb overlooking San Francisco, Calif.

The 1350 square foot, three bedroom house incorporates three forty-foot containers, two stacked on one another, and the third cut in half and stacked on itself. For their version of a container house Leger Wanaselja Architecture repurposed refrigerated shipping containers, which provides instant exterior siding, insulation, and a built-in structural frame. Additional framing was only needed where windows and interior partitions within the containers were added.

Leger Wanaselja Architecture
didn’t stop with the containers, shipping container doors were repurposed as retaining walls used within the site. Additional green materials were used throughout the Container House include blown cellulose insulation to the roof and floors, 50% fly ash/slg in concrete foundation and piers, “green seal” paint on the interior, along with 100% wool carpet and bamboo flooring.

The green aspects do not stop at the materials, with the inclusion for Solar Tubes for day lighting, energy star appliances, super high efficiency water heater and dual flush Caroma toilets.

+ Leger Wanaeselja Architecture


or your inhabitat account below


  1. pheebay December 5, 2013 at 11:37 am

    this is such an interesting idea. it is new and bold and creative. container home like this is suitable for any climate and ideal for those who prefer to have a home that is nor permanent. in your opinion, what is the main constraint in building one in tropical country

  2. bogdanrobv April 15, 2013 at 4:04 am

    We also have a containers house, in romania, for vacancy, you can find it at it turn prity nice :)

  3. Iswanddy February 26, 2012 at 5:26 am

    However, the design is there cw operation guideline or else, they have the expertise to do the installation, modification and other brilliant handling and idea. What we should do is, preparation and financial and get ready to spend your life in the this brilliant design. You ask for it.

  4. shivakumar October 6, 2010 at 7:16 am

    thank you for invention, i requst you a)8*40 2 container house what the cost ? b) any where in india this type of houses thr ?

  5. Shivakumar October 5, 2010 at 7:06 am

    is wonderful house i ever thought..iam go for this type of houses. in my village.

  6. yaoisama November 2, 2009 at 2:58 am

    i think this idea is good and if its gonna be me that have this home i would wanna have it!! ^______^

  7. evogirl August 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Love all the fun ideas. I have been looking into shipping containers for quite some time to glean information on how to make them aesthetically pleasing while maintaining the integrity of the building. My project, a sustainable coffee house, is on a much smaller level, however I do appreciate the complexity of this project! Any ideas for ways to make a sustainable coffee kiosk out of one of these?

  8. cjd032871 July 9, 2009 at 12:49 am

    I would like to explore the possibilities of building a sustainable lake home out of containers. I was in the landscape industry for almost 15 years and used containers to store equipment. I gave a lot of thought to designing a commercial space. I thought the equipment could be stored in the bottom and office space in the top. Do you have any contacts in Alabama that are building these homes? Very cool stuff!!


  9. ranselmo April 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Containers or not, this is a beautiful house. The fact that containers were used is innovative and brave on the part of the owners, architects and builders. Good on ya.

    I haven’t seen any containers used in vertical or diagonal repose. Should I assume that there is an underlying engineering reason, or has no one simply opened that mental portal?

  10. Budi Waluyo February 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Nothing I can say but certainly impressive. As an architect I really adore the work. It’s a brilliant idea I’ve never thought before. I believe the idea is applicable and affordable in other part of the world.

  11. EMJAY January 18, 2009 at 8:17 am

    perba negoro, good points well articulated.
    but, truth is not all 3rd world countries are as poor as Cnn depicts.
    i am a nigerian and trust me we have very wealthy individuals in every part of the country. thus such projects, in need of the manpower and materials you mentioned can be grought by such people and they can bank roll . if they know it’s viable and can help. further more this concept has a good commercial side to it. so i dont think its impossible to apply to poor countries, hard maybe but impossible, no. if leaders of 3rd world countries can build ridiculous 100 room edifices with all the modern luxuries conceivable, i dont think a couple of 8x20ft container houses would be a task

  12. 10 Amazing Recycled-Tra... October 10, 2008 at 8:10 am

    […] Shipping Containers: You can find a wide range of shipping container home/office/emergency shelter/low-cost housing […]

  13. Purba Negoro August 5, 2008 at 7:17 am

    I just came across a used crate site selling crates for $1800 (10 x 8 ft). This figure would often be more than the total cost of building several conventional material houses for the poor. This price example illustrates the huge gap between the developing world and a G8 nation.

  14. Purba Negoro August 5, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Firstly it is a wonderful and clever idea.
    However- from the perspective of an inhabitant of a ‘third world’ nation- Indonesia, it simply is a square peg for a round hole.

    I think too many Americans simply do not truly understand the realities of poverty and extreme poverty. Parts of Mexico, but perhaps better yet are Guatemala and Nicaragua and such nations are examples of the destitution most of the world lives in.
    To find a solution to fit their needs- you must walk a mile in their shoes.

    Summarily, the main problems to consider are cost, expertise and equipment involved in construction and repair transportation and handling, weather/rust-proofing, environmental concerns re hazardous residual chemicals and inadequate decontamination expertise or even facilities, let alone building waste disposal infrastructure.
    Road infrastructure in most developing nations- particular in poor areas of cities are non-standard sizes and poor to woeful and narrow. How does a shipping container be moved or craned? Who pays for the crane, the transportation and crew or accidental damage with a society devoid of insurance?
    Although impervious to insects, rust is a major structural problem for the developing world- especially in nations with high rainfalls and humid climes. Rust-proofing is also hazardous and toxic.
    Then the actual construction- and repair- assuming most shipping crates for construction would be retired from normal intended use. Most 3rd world skilled builders/labourers have the most primitive and basic hand tools only. and arc/tig/mig or oxyacetylene would be beyond their purchasing power. Equipment hire is almost non existent due to theft considerations. How then to cut, braze weld or join? Where does one find this rare expertise in the outlying areas, the slums or villages?

    So from a third world perspective, it is not economically viable, environmentally friendly or an appropriate housing solution for the poor. Also consider scrap metals are a lucrative cash source for those on the poverty line.
    Still wood, bamboo, wattle and daub, straw-bale, stone, rammed earth/cob/adobe remain far superior, appropriate technologies that have requisite indigenous expertise .

    So- superb idea, brillant design and wonderful theoretically. But not use for the poor sorry.

  15. Jorge Vargas July 4, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I bet this is a quick solution for living.
    I have a doubt, how do you fix them to the floor or between them? Is it necessary?

  16. janjandesailorman March 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for all your comments, folks – we didn’t know this was up or we would have replied sooner. So this is the owner writing from next door, where we live (the container house is currently rented out), in the Richmond hills.

    A pity they didn’t post the pics of the master bedroom – you can see the pop-out for the second bedroom in the (repeated) main front shots, there is a slightly bigger one for the master br on the other side. Required by code (something about a 9 foot circle or similar), and it allows for a queen size bed with room to actually walk past it, plus views out the back, which is where the best views are on our lot. And yes we used high-cube (9 feet 6).

    I’m glad some of you like what we consider it’s post-modern aesthetic; our neighbors all do too (well, the ones that will talk to us, anyway…), and I’m frankly confused about citicritter’s comments about a “fake historical style”, it sure don’t look like a Victorian or ranch to me – but then style is in the eyes of the beholder, and critter presumably hasn’t seen it in the flesh, where it contrasts with the 24 foot yurt in the front of the lot. The eaves are for sun control as well as aesthetics btw, we don’t do AC around here and the sun gets pretty strong in the summer.

    As for the minor issue of cost… this was a one-off using new technology (we don’t know of any other “reefer houses”, if anyone does please let us know), on a sloping lot bisected by the Hayward fault, so the foundation was expensive, and yes all that sheetmetal, popouts, trim etc. added up too. It ended up being a more expensive (and beautiful) house than we had originally envisioned, and my wife and I are not wealthy by Bay Area standards so we’ll be paying it off for decades like most homebuyers/builders. The reefers themselves were in fact the least of the cost issue, we got em used for 2200 a pop plus delivery, crane, and storage until we were ready for them (had to get 3 from the same lot for the engineer, so we sourced them well ahead of time and they sat around at the unnamed container handling facility while the county and the architects and engineer negotiated). Yes that was an accomplishment, no matter what you think of the design.

    We and architects are hoping to transition to a less expensive design now that we’ve worked out some of the bugs, maybe set up on good old concrete blocks (OK, so they fall off when the big one hits, then you just crane the whole shebang back on). But still looking for a builder/developer. At least we had the sense to attach the darn things (with industry-standard cam locks), unlike the insane project in Germany featured in that scary YouTube video.

    BTW we’ll be in the Green Homes Tour on June1, come by if you’re in the area.

  17. oakling February 12, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    On the other hand, in the Bay Area a $225,000 house would be really cheap. All right, if you still had to buy the lot it might be harder, but an environmental and brand-new house like this on a $75k-$200k lot would still be a whole lot (ha) cheaper than most of the homes for sale. Maybe as the housing prices continue to go down this will change.

    And the East Bay is not a suburb of San Francisco, nor does it overlook the city – we’re across the bay. The closest we come to a view of SF is a glimpse of its skyline at the end of a view of sparkly waters and neighboring cities. I would love to know what city this is actually in – Albany? Berkeley? Oakland? Farther away?

  18. jimmay February 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    seems expensive, 5,000 USD for a decent used container X 3…. then all the foundation work as well as the retro-fitting for windows and doors, lots of welding and a heap of finish work. Someone said cheap, though I’m not really seeing what is cheap about it. What is cheap? under 150,000 USD? so reclaimed structural system homes for under 150K, then by a lot and have all the sitework done. so really cheap homes for 225k.

    I’m not trying to be a cynic, though its a natural talent for me. Really I’m trying to see where the basis of cheap versus expensive comes into play. After the schooling buzz wears off in practice theres cheap and there is developer cheap; a whole new low for the budget. Where does ‘cheap’ land? and don’t even get me started on third world countries.

  19. Lisa February 10, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    DeMaria’s container projects are simply more beautiful than this or any other container projects out there. The project at the Vegas/CES was elegant. If only his darn Logical Home company will put all their designs out there for the world to see… Frustrated and been waiting to see what Logical will come up with. I hope it will be worth the wait.

  20. citicritter February 10, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Simple and elegant? Come on. Why everyone here is so keen on making a container building look ‘traditional’ is beyond me. Once again, its the same ‘fake historical’ style thing we see all over the Bay Area. Lets all add eaves to our shipping containers and voila! (No matter the result is 7.5 foot wide bedrooms). The most impressive thing here is that they got it through the building department, and certainly not the the design. The architect Wes Jones had it right (way before Lot-EK or Kalkin) — he was one of the first to acknowledge these things have an innate aesthetic as well as structural logic than can be built on, rather than trying to make them homey and familiar – yuck!

  21. Richie February 9, 2008 at 4:36 am

    A great design that’s simple and elegant. Also, probably inexpensive. I’m disappointed that Bedroom photos were not included. If these are standard width containers… the interior width would only be about 8 feet. This is narrow. Architect Adam Kalkin (architecture & hygiene) got around this narrow width by suspending a floating bed platform from one side to the other of the 8 foot width. Lot-EK avoids this problem by using double width volumes, created by joining two containers side by side and taking out the middl walls. It would have been informative to see how Leger Wanasejha Architects dealt with this challenge. Also… most containers are only 8.5 feet tall. Some are 9.5 feet tall. Were the containers used the 9.5 feet tall ones ? Certainly that would seem to be prefferrable ?

  22. djfred February 8, 2008 at 6:08 pm


  23. Adrian February 8, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the fact that so few people are talking about presidential candidates and their thoughts on global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be a bigger issue.

    Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( ) live earth is also asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw a poll on that says people care a lot about what their next leader thinks of global warming. Does anyone know of another poll or other results about this subject?

    Here is the page where I saw the EarthLab poll: This is a pretty legit website; they are endorsed by Al Gore and the alliance for climate protection and they have a carbon footprint calculator. Does anyone have a strong opinion about this like I do? No matter what your political affiliation is or who you vote for this is an important issue for our environment, our economy and for homeland security.

  24. ag February 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    This is a great step in the right direction
    Looks like a home you can put way up here in the northeast and it will survive a winter! The cost is probably high as refer containers are more costly then others however, if the design proves practical the economic scale might bring it down to more cost effective levels…nice work. It looks like a house, might almost get away with adding a few more exterior touches and it would pass for something other then a container house

  25. Anila February 8, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I have to say this is impressive. Normally I have seen container homes look…well…like containers. This home is aesthetically pleasing. Now, the only question is what would be the cost of this pre-fab home?

  26. Architects India February 8, 2008 at 8:54 am

    A lot of construction and building design in the future would be based on stuff like this .Especially third world countries , need to focus on this as they might be developing but they are not utilizing maximum resources.

  27. btc February 8, 2008 at 6:18 am


get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home