If you want 1,600 square feet of space to call your own in a trendy NYC neighborhood, usually you are going to have to shell out a lot of cash. But if you get really clever, you may be surprised by what you can afford.
When contractor David Boyle and his wife, NYIT professor Michele Bertomen decided to move into Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, they chose to do things their way. Instead of simply moving into an existing apartment, they constructed their own out of six shipping containers.
It looks pretty cool from the outside! What’s the interior like? Equally amazing.
Unless you look closely, you can’t really tell that this is a home made out of shipping containers, can you? But you can see the corrugated texture, especially on the ceiling. The doors and windows are all made from salvaged materials.
The balcony you see beyond the kitchen was made from a shipping container as well.
Not only were the doors and windows made from recycled materials, but many other components of the apartment were as well. The toilet paper holder for example was originally an industrial pipe.
The same is true of the towel rack, which was originally a sprinkler pipe.
David ran into this little sink at LaGuardia Place. It turned out to be an ideal fit for the corner of the bathroom (the home has three in total).
Only the spiral staircase was actually new (as opposed to recycled). This was done for safety reasons.
The house is able to stay warm during the cold NYC winters because of Super Therm insulation as well as radiant heat.
The table in the living room came from a bank teller window. Michele added slatted boards so it can be expanded as needed.
Here’s the balcony, where vegetables can be grown and guests can be entertained.
Here is an interesting overhead perspective of the living room. By the way, can you tell this house was built by a couple of book lovers?
In the living room, there is a scale model of the house. As a point of interest, this place is pretty big, but there are plenty of tiny homes which are constructed using just one or two shipping containers together. That is why I decided to feature this house despite its large square footage. It was built in the tiny house spirit of clever, eco-friendly design.
Downstairs is a guest room. The partition is a screen made out of clear plastic. It was actually part of another project which David was working on, but was no longer needed. Rather than let it go to waste, he found a cool use for it in the home.
Here is the gorgeous upstairs bedroom.
… And another bathroom.
This gives you a much better grasp on the balconies. You can see now that they are not separate containers. They are just sections of the containers used for the main rooms which have had sections cut out of their walls. This is quite clever.
This looks like an awesome guest room!
This view looks up toward the bedroom.
This pulley system is a genius idea! It makes it possible to haul up items from ground level without climbing up the stairs.
Wondering how the containers are connected? There are locking connectors which can be used to hold the containers together during shipping. They work great while the containers are stationary too.
In total, the couple spent $400,000 to build the home. The Department of Buildings delayed their project repeatedly, resulting in an additional $100,000 of interest—it isn’t easy to get building permissions in NYC.
In any case, for a new home in NYC, that is not a bad price. David and Michele’s shipping container house is a great example of how modular units can be configured to fit any space and any set of needs, all while keeping costs low.
While their home has multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, you could follow suit with the same idea and just one bed and bath. That would require fewer shipping containers and less square footage, making for a tiny alternative.
You can learn more about the house and view additional photos at Inhabitat. Regrettably, Michele Bertomen has passed away. You can view a tribute to her written by one of her students here. Even though Michele has passed on, her projects will continue to inspire architecture enthusiasts from NYC and all over the world.