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Corrugated Steel Shipping Containers Do Double Duty As Housing

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Creative architects have latched on to the idea of recycling steel shipping containers to save on construction costs. While it's certainly cheaper, this isn't just some exercise in odd-looking green building, but an honest attempt to create stylish homes out of the ubiquitous steel boxes. In its simplest form, like this rendition from Poteet Architecture (above), the container house is just a single box with all the necessary essentials for living crammed inside, but things get much, much more complex.

? Let's start off slowly, adding just one more container to the mix with this woodsy studio by Maziar Behrooz Architecture. In order to solve the perennial container problem of low ceilings, the architects designed a double-height basement and capped it off with two containers with glass on each end. The final product has 18-foot ceilings and a clean white interior.

? Sometimes the shipping containers form just part of the house. The Redondo Beach House by De Maria Design uses a stacked pair of containers to form an indoor/outdoor entryway and several more integrated throughout the house. The dinged up exteriors have been cleaned and painted a crisp white to match the contemporary feel.

? The containers have also been used in the renovation of existing houses. The designers of this NYC townhouse, Lot-Ek Architects, found many uses for the sturdy steel boxes. Three cut ends form large windows at the front of the house, while a pair on the roof serve as a glassy penthouse. Little is done to disguise the rooftop pair and they even have red lights as if they were still on the back of a truck.

? Some truly ambitious architects out of Holland have taken this whole shipping container thing to a new level with a 1,000-unit apartment block created almost entirely out of recycled containers from China. Initially designed to be moved after five years, the complex has had its lease extended until 2016. Good looking and well-suited to Amsterdam students—there's plenty of secure bike parking between the buildings—Keetwonen is one of TempoHousing's success stories.

· Container guest house [Poteet Architects]
· Container studio [MB Architecture]
· Redondo Beach House [De Maria Design]
· Lot-Ek Architects [official site]
· Keetwonen [TempoHousing]