Shipping Container Housing – Building Section
This continues my previous post on shipping container housing in Chad. Please take a look at these previous blog postings for an explanation of the design choices involved in creating housing from metal shipping containers in a hot climate .
The section drawing below shows a cross section thru the proposed shipping container housing. As described in the previous posts, the structure consists of two pairs of shipping containers stacked side by side with a stairwell core in between. These containers are lifted into place over a concrete foundation / “daylight basement” structure and a metal roof framing system is installed over the roof to prevent heat buildup from direct sunlight
hitting the structures.
This section also shows how much of the lower sleeping areas is recessed into the ground in order to take advantage of the cooler soil temperatures several feet below the surface. This section also shows the protective shading devices over the windows, as well as the area above the containers which would be vented naturally by a “chimney effect” by the heated area being vented out the sides of the openings just below the upper roof.
Double-click on the drawing for an enlarged view.
Posted in Uncategorized
(This continues my previous post on shipping container
housing in Chad)
1) Dealing with the heat
A) It was decided that the shipping containers would be installed over concrete masonry semi-recessed basement walls and that there would be a “daylight basement” level for sleeping areas and the main level above would be the shipping containers modified as living areas. Recessing the lower level 5’ into the earth would help keep the lower level cooler as the surrounding soil is cooler several feet down from the surface.
B) The outer skin of the shipping containers (as well as part of the concrete basement walls exposed above ground) would be sheathed with reflective insulation board, which would be covered with a wire mesh and coat of cement plaster. Cement plaster is used in local building traditions. Reflective insulation board would help reflect the heat away from the exterior surfaces.
C) A metal roof over light metal roof trusses would be constructed above the shipping containers and its screened ends and eaves would allow the heat to escape before hitting the roof of the shipping containers. In addition, the roof of the containers would be covered with the same reflective insulation board. There might be operable hatch “vents” over the stairway ceiling to allow for a “chimney effect” to allow for flow thru ventilation of
air at night.
D) Evaporative coolers (the same type of “swamp coolers” used in the southwest arid regions of the US) would help cool the interior by lowering the temperature when the water evaporates.
E) All windows and doors would have roof overhangs to prevent direct sunlight from entering the interior spaces. Each entry would be in a screened porch with metal roof.
2) Appearance of the shipping container housing. Living in a shipping container might appeal to a certain portion of people who might consider it unique. Would the people in Chad feel that way or would they consider it demeaning? By giving the units a sloped metal roof and plastered exterior walls, the units look less like containers and more like tropical
housing and fits in better with the existing buildings in the hospital compound. These units are also used as living units for visiting medical personnel from other countries.
3) In order not to have the feeling of “tunnel vision” for the inside spaces, the containers were aligned side by side with a separation wall halfway through the unit. Openings were then cut between the side by side units to allow for larger and better ventilated living areas.
The drawings below explain how 4 containers were positioned,
with a stair “core” between the 2 center units. The drawings also show the
proposed layout of the units.
Picture 1: the blue and green represent the location of the shipping containers and the red is the “stair core”. Picture 2: The different colors indicate the 4 living units (the red is the stair core). Picture 3 & 4: These show the layout of the main living area and the lower level sleeping area.Posted in Uncategorized
Shipping Container Housing
I was contacted early this year by Eric Tangen, an extremely talented woodworker with whom I’ve worked with on several projects. Eric and his wife have been extremely involved in a number of projects with their church projects in Mexico and Africa.
The church is currently involved in helping to develop medical care facilities in the African country of Chad, which is located just south of Libya. The church has helped develop a compound of medical facilities and is in the process of creating housing for visiting medical staff. A local doctor, from Edmonds, WA, has travelled to the compound several times and is very involved in creating this housing.
Eric contacted me to help design this housing and asked me “What are your thoughts about making the housing from shipping containers”? I’d seen a number of projects built from shipping containers – some interesting and some not. My first thought was “Housing in a shipping container in the hot African sun? Man, that’s going to be hot!” As I looked into the possibilities, I warmed up (pun intended) to the idea and began researching the concept.
The idea was to use the shipping containers to send whatever construction materials and supplies that weren’t available locally in these shipping containers and to then use the containers as housing, installed on foundations built by local construction crews.
My thoughts and concerns were:
1) The incredible heat – how can we make a metal box livable in that environment? How can we make the space as cool as possible?
2) Would the residents accept the idea of living in shipping containers and how could I make them visually appealing with the other buildings in the compound?
3) How could I make the interiors inviting, functional, and not feel like the inside of a shipping container? Living in an 8’ wide by 40’ long space would seem like “tunnel vision” to me.
Eric and I began looking at options, received valuable input from the doctor, and we began to create a design that responded to our concerns and our goals for the project.
My next blog post will show how we propose to deal with these concerns and I’ll show floor plans of the space.Posted in Uncategorized
As I mentioned in my previous post, 2-dimensional drawings
are often a challenge for clients to understand and really get an accurate idea
of how their project will look in reality. The same is true for Planning
Departments, Bank Loan Officers, and Building Department Officials.
As an architect, I’ve got a very good ability to “see 3-D when looking at 2-D drawings”, yet I can remember more than once being surprised that some part of a project didn’t end up having the same proportions I had visualized when looking at the 2-Dimensional drawings. That didn’t happen very often but when it did, it really made me realize that if I had difficulty visualizing 3-Dimensional design elements, then my clients must really
That’s one of the reasons I decided to learn Revit, the 3-Dimensional architectural modeling program that I wrote about in the previous blog. To say that it has helped my clients visualize their project better is the understatement of the year.
Below is the rendering that was done from the Revit model that I had designed. I hope you can see that the building materials are accurately shown, as well as the shadows and planting materials – all these elements being realistically rendered really show what a project will look like once it’s constructed. (Double click the rendering for a large scale view)Posted in Uncategorized
Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Cottage – Helping Clients Visualize Design Concepts
I enjoy working with my clients on their residential projects – helping them determine their goals and needs that they have for their project. I assist them in their decisions and provide inspiration and design ideas that they may not have considered.
I develop the floor plan in response to their needs and wishes, the restrictions as well as the possibilities imposed by their site and the reality of their construction budgets. While I’m creating design concepts and floor plans, I’m visualizing the 3-D view of their project – what they and everyone else sees when looking at the exterior design of their home.
When developing the plan, making subtle changes can really affect the exterior view of the project and I keep these in mind as the plan evolves. Many clients focus entirely on the floor plan and wait to see what their home will look like once the floor plans and elevations have been completed. Working simultaneously on the floor plan and the exterior appearance and massing of the home produces a much better project.
I’ve occasionally had the client who can visualize a 3-D shape of their home, even before the exterior is designed. Most clients have trouble visualizing the shape and massing of their home – even when they see final drawings. As an architect, this skill comes easily to me but, it’s often difficult to for clients to understand 2-Dimensional drawings.
Perspective drawings help solve this dilemma, however creating 3-D perspectives is time consuming and the client often wants to see multiple viewpoints of different design options.
The answer for me has turned out to be Revit, a 3-D architectural modeling software. Using this, I can create perspective views from different viewpoints and these really help clients visualize their project.
I produced the drawing below during the design process and the client was thrilled to see it and realize that it had the traditional character she desired for her new home. This perspective allowed her to visualize it in ways that no 2-D drawings ever could. The first drawing is a 2-D drawing – while informative, it can be hard to visualize the entire
“package” – I think you’ll agree that the two perspectives really help everyone visualize the project.
Posted in Uncategorized
My client for this ADU/Cottage is a 78 year old woman (one of my favorite clients ever) who selected me to design her cottage after deciding to downsize from a house nearly 3 times as large as this project. Because of planning department regulations, this unit could be no more than 739 s.f. of living area and with a unit of this size; she was concerned that the unit would too small for her needs.
This cottage is located on her son’s property as a detached ADU and while wanting to be involved with her extended family, she wanted a home where she could have privacy while having a comfortable space to entertain family and friends.
Entertaining and cooking with friends is an important part of her life, which dictated that she have a nice kitchen to cook and entertain. Most ADU’s have smaller kitchens – this just wouldn’t do for her. We created a kitchen layout that was quite functional with features found in kitchens in much larger homes. A kitchen in a unit of this size is definitely a focal point, so it has to work well and have plenty of space for storage.
Summers in the Seattle area are beautiful and she wanted a large covered porch to entertain guests and to grill on a BBQ on the porch. Our area also has many spring and fall days with light rain – the porch helps extend her “outdoor season”. She loves outdoor light and this cottage has a number of large windows that really fill the space with light, making it seem even larger, especially on cloudy, winter days.
She wanted a cottage with traditional character yet be fully handicapped accessible – a ramp from the driveway would allow for access to the entry porch and the garage is just an inch below the floor level of the living area, allowing access with no steps.
Working with her to develop this design was a true pleasure and I was delighted in seeing her excitement when I showed her the final design. Construction will be completed in June and she’s definitely looking forward to moving into her own cottage.
I recently had the opportunity to design an Accessory Dwelling Unit (an ADU) for a client who was building the ADU for his 78 year old mother. Where I practice (the Seattle area), many municipalities are allowing ADU’s to be built as part of an existing residential unit – attached to the main house or as a detached unit.
My client contacted me to design this unit for his mother and this ADU / cottage will be the first unit in a 10-12 unit cottage project that he hopes to develop for this site in the future.
In our area, most ADU’s are built as attached units, however more detached ADU’s are being built as a detached “mother-in-law” apartment and are located in the back or side yard depending upon the local zoning codes.
Most cities allow only attached ADU’s because they wish to maintain the single-family house character of the neighborhoods. In municipalities where detached ADU’s are allowed, the zoning code usually requires the ADU to be built at the rear of the main house. Detached ADU’s are more expensive to build, however they do provide privacy for a homeowner who wants an ADU with the rental income but prefers not to have the tenant living in the same physical structure. Detached ADU’s in urban neighborhoods are usually built above a new or existing garage at the side or rear of the main house.
Zoning codes usually have a maximum size for the ADU – in this case, the area of the ADU cannot exceed 40% of the area of the main residence. For this project, the ADU had to be 739 s.f., or less, which is about the same area as a one bedroom apartment.
Attached or detached ADU? If the zoning code allows either, the deciding factor is often the design and layout of the main house and how an attached addition would affect the layout and appearance of the main house. If the lot size allows it, a detached ADU offers more design options and can have the character and appeal found in cottage homes.Posted in Uncategorized
I’ve survived the creation of my “first ever” website and it’s rewarding to see it come into reality. With the guidance and help of a very talented website designer, website developer, and professional consultant, I was able to create a website that illustrates samples of my work and my approach in working with clients.
The website did not “create itself” nor was it “a snap to do”. I had to make many decisions and choices about the structure of the website, the graphic “look”, the layout, what to include, what to leave out, what to write and how to write it in a way that would be useful and informative.
Looking at the “$49.95 Do-It-Yourself” website software packages and websites that were completed with these inexpensive packages, I decided this approach wasn’t for me. The graphics were geared more toward any number of products or services – sort of a “one size fits all” approach. I decided to invest for professional website design help and I am glad I did.
When creating the website, I began to see similarities between creating a website and designing an architectural project. A novice purchasing a cheap home design software package and expecting to create a very visually appealing and functional home design the first time out seems pretty unrealistic – yet I’ve seen quite a few homeowners who have come to me after trying that approach and became frustrated in the process. My chances of creating an appealing website with no website design experience seemed unlikely – seeking the advice of professionals seems like a no-brainer to me, whether it’s for a website or a home.
While making what seemed like 10,000 decisions on the website, I realized many homeowners are in the same situation when they make decisions regarding their home design. I have new respect for their situation as they struggle with questions over layout, visual appeal, cost decisions, and having every decision raise the thought “Am I making this decision wisely?”
Having worked on hundreds of homes, these decisions seem easy and second nature to me and I enjoy providing guidance for these clients. Now that I can understand how some homeowners struggle with these decisions, it has inspired me to make the process even more enjoyable and rewarding for them, as I help them realize the dreams they have for their living space.Posted in Blog