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‘Starburst’ Home Pushes the Envelope in Shipping Container Architecture

Our blogs have showcased some incredibly striking and innovative shipping container architecture over the past few months but the ‘starburst-design’ project must be one of the most remarkable yet. Officially dubbed the ‘Joshua Tree Residence’, this remarkable 2,100-square-foot dwelling will eventually sit incongruously in the California desert, like some futuristic alien spacecraft from the mind of Ridley Scott!

The Most Imaginative Adaptation of Conex Boxes Yet

This white metal home’s unique design is a far cry from the original shipping container adaptations of the nineties. It’s a serious piece of functional architecture but with the sweeping angles of a monumental steel sculpture that wouldn’t look out of place as part of a Los Angeles contemporary art exhibition.

Whitaker-Studio_Joshua-Tree-Residence-Shipping-Container-ArchitectureIt comes as no surprise that the ‘starburst’ project was commissioned by a Hollywood producer, namely Chris Hanley, who was responsible for the controversial movie from back in 2000, ‘American Psycho’, and whose pockets are clearly very deep. Tasked with realising his shipping container dream is ground-breaking British architect and digital artist, James Whitaker. He took his design cues from a project in Germany’s Black Forest region, where a stunning office space was created in 2010 from recycled steel shipping containers. Known as the Hechingen Studio, it became the head-turning but low-cost home of a German advertising company. The original plan was to simply stack the Conex boxes but this metamorphosed into a quite different building.

A Practical Yet Striking Shipping Container Home

The Joshua Tree holiday home will feature three bedrooms, neatly welded together by fabrication specialists, who have formerly worked on major, metal art installations. Next, plasterboards will be added to provide insulation. This is crucial, as deserts are not just baking hot in the day but can be extremely cold at night. Insulated shipping containers were originally developed to combat the problem of condensation and to store and transport perishable loads. They are now frequently employed in sea container architecture all around the world.

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Some corrugated steel walls will be replaced by floor-to-ceiling windows that will reveal stunning panoramas of the desert landscape and up towards a huge, unobstructed sky. Imagine the spectacular view of the constellations in a sky unpolluted by city lights! It will be almost like having a huge telescope. Solar panels mounted on some of the shipping container roofs are the obvious choice for providing green, sustainable power to the house. After all, it’s a long way from the national grid.

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Repurposing Conex Boxes is Here to Stay

The vast amount of cargo that passes in and out of giant US container ports, including Los Angeles, Houston, Savannah and New Jersey, ensures that a huge number of sea containers reach the end of their average quarter-century lives each year and are decommissioned by shipping companies. There are hundreds of uses for these rugged, Corten steel boxes, which are resistant to rust and have valuable roles to play in second careers as bars, restaurants, retail units, farm buildings, office suites and secure lock-up facilities. Their applications are limited only by the imagination of designers and architects.

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