Sustainable design has taken longer to get off the ground in South Africa largely due to expensive construction methods. When Johannesburg-based Architecture For A Change (A4AC) took on the challenge of building a modern green home in the country, they aimed to make the house not only environmentally friendly but also affordable. They cut costs by using upcycled shipping containers and other repurposed materials to build Cliff House, a lifted flying container house with an economical, energy-efficient design.
A4AC’s clients were inspired by the aesthetic of Steve Jobs’ cutting edge products, and wanted a modern-looking home that could be built quickly and sustainably. After scrutinizing different construction materials like rammed earth, straw bale, and adobe, they settled on containers.
A4AC took up the challenge and designed a 1,4000 square foot off-grid home with secondhand shipping containers and lightweight steel framing prefabricated offsite. The steel framing arrived at the home location in the shipping containers; part of A4AC’s goal was to minimize the impact of construction on the site. Recycled wine bottle corks were transformed into cork flooring, and recycled plastic bottles provide insulation. The building is clad in steel sheeting to achieve that futuristic look. The house was even lifted to lessen contact with the earth.
The container house doesn’t require municipal water or electricity connections. Solar energy provides power for the home, which obtains water via an onsite borehole. The residents cook with bottled gas. LED lights ensure energy efficient lighting, and access to natural light helps keep those lights switched off during the day. Double glazing uPVC windows, which A4AC says are uncommon in Africa, also help keep the home insulated. Natural ventilation means the residents don’t need to resort to air conditioning during hot weather.
In a country still largely influenced by colonial building methods, according to A4AC, this beautiful 21st century residence stands in sharp contrast. With the affordable flying container house, A4AC presents a vision for sustainable architecture in Africa.
Images courtesy of Architecture For A Change