Brutalist Habitat: speculations for shipping container dwellings

While this design is speculative, we have learned a great deal about what could be done and for what cost. As recovering “form-aholics” it was refreshing to work within stringent limitations. Even the most simple plan can meet with endless refinement. Having no timetable or rush to begin this project it has become an ongoing process that is years in the making. Ultimately this constant design project has been a way to continuously question how one lives. In essence, the house is a bunker, (not unlike every other house we have designed). After all, we live in private spaces to escape; to create new idealistic realities and to have control over something, even if it is so small. This is simply a raw idea of shelter formalized. The minimum needed laid out as simple open spaces for flexible habitation.

The parti is a sort of Janus Face within a uniform mask of a shell. Taking Sou Fujimoto’s idea of all architecture being either nest or cave will result in a form that holds both. One space for work that is indifferent, pure, open and plain, while another is specifically articulated for the everyday tasks of life, divided by a core that serves both. On the level of the site plan the Janus Face operates on another scale adding a frame as a counterpoint to the volume to hold louder, dirtier tools such as old cars, welders and various other fabrication activities that would not be welcome in a clean space. This is a concept that yields a specific idea of plan. Such a plan does not work for every site, but this diagram can be flexed to fit. Ultimately, the site can drive a whole concept, or a concept can drive a particular application to site. Since this is a never ending topic the diagram is constantly revised, but it will be more a struggle to find a site where the diagram will fit, than a diagram for a specific site. At the time of this writing we have already abandoned the plan to build from ISO containers. Things change every instant and to de-compartmentalize compartments seems like a waste of the container’s structure and original intent.