Swedish architect Måns Tham built a house on the outskirts of Stockholm using eight standard shipping containers stacked and lifted on metal pillars.
Named a container house, this dwelling was designed by Tam for couples who want to build their own home from the containers commonly used to transport goods around the world.
The couple’s husband works for a demolition company and is an avid mechanic interested in customized American cars. It informed an architectural approach focused on reuse and modification, allowing most of the project to be self-building.
The steep section did not have enough space to create the slab, so the building was lifted to the ground by steel columns.
The house consists of eight containers with a standard width of 2.4 meters. These units are stacked to create three levels of living space for a couple and their three children.
The walls between the containers have been carefully removed to maximize living space while maintaining the structural performance of the unit.
“Shipping containers aren’t really the best starting point for a home because of their limited width,” explains Tam.
“We had to put a lot of effort into deciding which walls to cut and which to preserve so that we could use the container with as few additional structures as possible,” continued the architect. ..
The containers were arranged according to the terrain of the site, so the upper floors could span a larger area and accommodate the main living space.
Rainwater that falls on the hillside of a steep hill passes under the building and is connected to an adjacent pine forest by an adjacent 8-meter steel truss bridge.
The entrance to the lower floors of the house leads to a space that includes a study and a guest bedroom. The laundry room and main bathroom at the back of the building have large windows overlooking the rocks.
The stairs go upstairs, where the main living area is located, and there is a terrace arranged to maximize the evening sun. The bedroom behind this floor overlooks the forest.
A single container above the living space provides a mezzanine observatory where children can find privacy.
This container also acts as a light well, allowing sunlight to reach the north-facing living room. Steel stairs with open treads and railings made of nets help maximize the amount of light passing through.
Many of the materials and fixtures used throughout the interior were recovered from demolition sites around Stockholm. Wood boards, metal panels, stairs, and parts of the abandoned kitchen were incorporated with minor changes.
Tham needed to develop an ingenious solution for details such as railings, chimneys and gutters to meet the strict Swedish building code while maintaining the cohesive aesthetics of the house.
“There is a point where stacked containers are all added and modified so that they are no longer containers, but instead become assembled buildings that are fixed to the landscape,” the architect concluded.
“This point was of interest to me and guided me through many of the design challenges of the house.”
Converting shipping containers to create buildings is a popular trend in architecture. Elsewhere, Polish practice Wiercinski Studio recently converted two containers into portable houses, which Fenwick Iribarren Architects used to create a removable stadium in Qatar.
Photos are by Staffan Andersson unless otherwise stated.
Chief Architect: Måns Tham
Collaborator: Julianne Moore, Eric Lundquist
Structural engineer: Egil Bartos, Ramball