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The 5 best shipping container houses of 2017

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Repurposed with style

A shipping container house built by a couple in Missouri.
Photo by Carmen Troesser

If there’s anything 2017 taught us, it’s that we have an insatiable desire for well-designed tiny homes and innovative campers. The other big trend of the year was another quirky style of dwelling: the shipping container house.

Made from the thousands of surplus containers that sit on docks around the world, shipping container houses can be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional building materials. Diehards love their durability and, in some cases, their portability—although moving a shipping container house can cost a lot of time and money.

To showcase how these industrial workhorses can transform into gorgeous homes, we’ve rounded up the best five shipping container houses that we reported on this year. Interested in buying one yourself? Don’t miss our guide to five shipping container homes you can order right now or check out this other shipping container that’s available on Amazon.

A wild shipping container house in the California desert

Strikingly realistic renderings of a proposed shipping container house designed by London-based James Whitaker.
Photos via Dezeen

Set to rise in the desert outside of Joshua Tree, California, this 2,153-square-foot house is the work of London designer James Whitaker, who created the spiky, sea anemone-reminiscent home for a film producer and his wife as the Los Angeles couple’s vacation home. Gawk at the rendered interiors, right this way.

A 3,100-square-foot, $135K container house lets its owners live mortgage free

The renovated shipping container house of a Missouri couple.
Photo by Carmen Troesser

One of Curbed’s most popular House Calls of 2017 was a photo tour of this 3,100-square-foot shipping container house in St. Charles, Missouri. The couple purchased an empty lot in 2011 and decided to try something different.

“We chose a container house because it gave us the most bang for our buck,” says Brie. “It allowed us to use recycled materials, which was important to us. The cost of it, and the fact we did so much of it ourselves, allowed us to live mortgage free, which was also important to us.” Read more, over here.

These efficient modern prefabs raise the bar for shipping container homes

Tiny home meets shipping container in the HO2 studio home by Honomobo. At 362 square feet—the second smallest in Honomobo’s line—the design features an open living area and kitchen, with a separate bathroom, nook for a bed and work area, and large glass wall bringing in light from the front. The bright space sits above a precast concrete garage and includes a wooden deck entrance on one side. See more, this way.

A handcrafted shipping container home for sale in Montana

A shipping container home in Livingston, Montana at dusk.
A shipping container home in Livingston, Montana at dusk.
Photo by Windy Haus/@windy_haus

In November, a 720-square-foot one bedroom, one-bath house in Livingston, Montana went on the market for a $125,000. Designed and built by architect and artist Ty Kelly—the former partner and co-owner of Spore Architecture in Seattle—the house is made from two shipping containers welded together. Far from looking like large containers that have traveled the world, the result is a sleek, light-filled abode that takes advantage of Montana’s gorgeous views.

Love the look? We’ve got more beautiful photos, over here.

Shipping containers repurposed for off-grid home in South Africa

The Cliff House is a 100 percent off-the-grid abode largely built with recycled materials.
A4AC via Inhabitat

Designed by the shipping-container-architecture mavens at Architecture for A Change (A4AC) in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Cliff House is a 100 percent off-the-grid abode largely built with recycled materials. A pair of old shipping containers makes up the bulk of the 1,400-square-foot structure, sitting atop a steel frame (whose components were transported to the site inside of the shipping containers, natch). Check out all the details.