In my "Playing catch up” post from last Friday, one of the items concerned New York Magazine getting to the bottom of who was exactly behind a mysterious and “amazing 320-square foot prefab shack” that had materialized at the end of October on a vacant corner lot in Manhattan’s West Village.

Weird temporary structures aren’t exactly an anomaly in New York City, but as NY Mag's Wendy Goodman found out, this “strange little container house” was one of several affordable repurposed shipping container homes designs from MEKA (Modular, Environmental, Kinetic, Assembly) a Toronto-based firm that made its unofficial American debut this week amidst a decent amount of press attention.

So prefab start-ups take note: if there’s one way to get national media attention, placing a cedar-clad shipping container dwelling on a vacant lot in the middle of New York City should do the trick.

High exposure “product placement” aside, there’s a lot to like about MEKA’s brand of “modular luxury housing." The four available models listed on MEKA’s website, ALP320, VOR640, THOR1120, and HELA1280, sell for a reasonable $100 per square foot with the exception of the ALP320 (the home installed in the West Village) which at 320-square feet starts at $39,000. Of course, once you factor in things like the cost of the land and permits, things start to get pricey. But as a jumping off point, MEKA homes are quite the catch.

The exterior of each versatile, factory-built (in eastern China) MEKA shipping container home is clad in cedar (giving them that oh-so-classy “non-shipping container” look) and includes bamboo flooring, walls, and ceilings. The cedar patios are the cut-out sides of the shipping containers. Rooftop solar panels and a rainwater harvesting systems are optional along with other bells and whistles. According to MEKA, the installation of each home should take less than a week.

MEKA shipping container homes are indeed handsome, unfussy and eco-friendly. I think they've got a good thing going. However, I’m failing to grasp the MEKA mantra — “These products will surpass expectations. Don’t be a skeptic, be a cynic, and then believe it. Ethos is everything. Ego is nothing.” — as listed on the company website.

For more info on this much buzzed-about modular housing firm, check out recent articles in The Wall Street Journal, Jetson Green and The Architects Newspaper. Inhabitat also was on the scene for one of the open house tours at the West Village model home and snapped plenty of “exclusive pics.”

And if you happen to be in New York City and want to see a MEKA home — or as Curbed NY calls it, "The Prefab Box That'll Make Dwell's Ears Pop" — in the flesh, you'll find one at the corner of Charles and Washington streets until the end of this month. 

Renderings: MEKA World

Also on MNN: See 8 eye-catching shipping container homes

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

MEKA makes waves in NYC
A handsome and affordable shipping container home manages to accomplish a rare feat: It captures the attention of harried, seen-it-all New Yorkers.