Gallery: Cliffside Shipping Container Home in New Zealand

Ross Stevens' Container Home

We’re always excited to see architects reuse industrial materials, and in the prefab world there’s no match for the simplicity, low cost, and customization capabilities of the stalwart shipping container. We’ve covered several ways that architects have up-cycled the durable containers into industrial-chic living spaces, and this incredible home in Wellington, New Zealand, is the latest container redux to catch our eye. Composed of three slate grey containers stacked up like blocks beside a hilltop, it strikes the perfect balance between ruggedly engineered construction and clean modern form.

Shipping containers are an intrepid green architect’s dream. They’re essentially durable, ready-made rooms that, with the right set of retrofits, can be repurposed into modular living spaces. Built to weather the test of time and strains of shipping, they also possess a standardized modular structure that gives them great potential for vertically inclined projects.

The grey container house was constructed by Ross Stevens, an Industrial Design lecturer at Victoria University in Wellington. It takes advantage of the shipping container’s intrinsic stacking ability to build where other construction methods would have been costly, if not altogether impossible. The house is composed of mostly reclaimed materials, and it has a wonderful way of merging its industrial interior with the immediate environment through balconies and terraces.


Photo credit: Petraalsbach’s Flickr Set


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  1. Containerguy June 26, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    If you are serious about building your own Container home, the best thing to do gain membership at these guys have done their homework, tutorials for every step. Enjoy!

  2. elizabeth tupara February 25, 2013 at 6:37 am

    hi im really interested in the idea of using a container as a living space what i want to no is how costly it is I like the containers that have the huge doors how do i find out the costings

  3. Wellington Boy April 21, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I am a Wellingtonian who cares about the environment and absolutely love the concept of container homes. Can I get more info on how I could construct a similar home for myself and if I can see the house. Please, if anyone has any ideas on container home designs in NZ. Also to use a green roof and as much recycled materials for the interior as well.
    Thank you.

  4. suewillan December 2, 2011 at 2:17 am

    My home has been severely damaged in the Christchurch earthquake and I am thinking of having a home built from shipping containers,do you build them or know how I can contact someone who can? I am traveling to Wellington between Christmas and New Year, can I come and see your home?
    Kind regards

  5. The Lone Haranguer April 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    The earthquake was in Christchurch which is in the south island of New Zealand. Wellington is at the bottom of the north island, (real creative names for the two main islands – we need to change them)

    I understand that Wellington housing stock suffered no damage of any significance from the Christchurch quake, so I would expect the house to be undamaged, and I would expect the nearby traditional houses to also be undamaged.

  6. BigRog March 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Please tell me how well the structure survived the earthquake recently, well I hope.
    Thank you
    Roger Burchfield

  7. john s August 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Building with containers is worth taking a look at if you are contemplating a new home.


    Lots of example buildings, details, facts, and links to other articles. They have something new that you can setup your own project wiki to get help with your project if you are the design build sort…

  8. Te Rei October 13, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Kia ora,

    I love the idea but yes I think it could do with a bit of a something on the outside it does look a bit boring.

    I want to do this. Can you help me with some advice? Is it better to get the windows and doors already cutout by for instance Addis Shipping Containers or do it myself. What has been the total cost once you’re able to move in, ie land, container, materials etc?


  9. Linda August 6, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    the interior is amazing, i love how they kept the industrial modern feel of the containers instead or trying to make it look like a “normal” house. unfortunately the outside is totally bland. i don\’t mind the look of shipping containers, but where are the windows?

  10. jct May 31, 2008 at 6:10 am

    it’s too bad you are talking about something you don’t know. this house actually is sited right next to a busy road, and is not on a cliff. and on the other side of that hill behind the house? The regional landfill. Next to it?
    Across the road? a bland suburban development. This place and the quirky place of the guy who does sculptures out of junk are the only interesting parts of the drive until you get to the waterfront which is another 5 km away.

  11. hanseich May 30, 2008 at 9:10 am


    I don’t agree with you at all. How is this any different then building a house on a plane and digging down for the foundation? For this house, they just dug into the mountain. Maybe the cliff is all that this person was able to buy? or maybe they owned it already. I would also say that the cliff is changed less in geographic functionality than plain land that you build a house on.

    You should really look what it takes in energy to build the building materials for a house. These containers could have just been thrown out to be molten down. You should try to build something like that and then be told by someone into your face, that this is not green.

    Here is the other “joke”, the temr green is not reglemented. Anyone can use it in any way. Which I must agree with you sucks, but it is up to the consumer to smarten up and look into the product, and not just taking the manufacturers word for it.

    Peace out, Hans

  12. Fractal May 26, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Well, and where is the green onto this kind of project?

    It’s nice to recycle, industrial waste, but what happens with the environment?
    Cliffs ecology (not important at all I suppose) is being destroyed… then… you could built it on coast zones, up the sea, over the beach, cliffs only gets suitability to coastal environment, or river, or lakes…

    Green must be 100% ecological, not recycled, alternative, or whatever

    this containers could be green if location were not the cliff.

    Please be careful with this questions, our environment it’s not a joke.


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