Sunday, March 15, 2009
Can a Great Idea Be Contained?
Fast Company magazine takes a look at the work of architect Adam Kalkin, whose specialty is the shipping container house.
Architects have been playing with the notion of shipping container houses for a decade or so, drawn by their relative cheapness, structural strength, transportability and the ease with which they can be recycled. The most famous example of the form may be Container City, a funky live/work colony in London's Docklands district.
Kalkin has taken the idea a step further, though. His family owns a container home dubbed Bunny Lane. It is essentially a prefab aircraft hangar with a 19th century clapboard cottage inside. You get sleek industrial design wrapped around a too cute cottage. It's fun but hardly practical for the average neighborhood. Oh, it's also for sale at $2.8 million.
The Fast Company article provoked some interesting reader feedback, with valid questions about how hot the containers get in the summer and hot cold in winter. There's the matter of the two-storey glass and aluminium garage doors that frame either side of the main living space. Must get kinda drafty when you let the dog out in the colder months, no? The question of affordability is also mooted. Kalkin's most popular design, the Quik Build, tops out at between $250 and $400 U.S. per square foot, installation included land excluded. That hardly puts it in the budget category.
Still, if you were the kind of kid who loved building packing crate or refrigerator box hideouts, Kalkin's the man for you. You can even visit one, not too far from Montreal. There's an imposing 20 foot-by 80-foot Kalkin house on the grounds of the excellent Shelburne Museum, a scant 160 kilometres or 100 miles south of us, just outside Burlington, Vt. Pack a lunch, it's worth the visit.