Here's a look at a rather attractive cargotecture venture out of Wuxi, China (via Denmark) that's been making the rounds the past few days. In a nutshell, it's the ideal home for folks who are keen on the notion/novelty of living inside of a stack of retrofitted shipping containers but who may balk at the idea of living inside of something that actually resembles a stack of retrofitted upcycled shipping containers (as many projects of this sort tend to do).
In a concept that’s not too dissimilar from Matthew Coates’ and James Green’s Eco-Pak, the three upcycled shipping containers that make up Copenhagen-based firm Arcgency’s pilot World FLEX Home in Wuxi act as both the delivery vessels and the structural framework — the building blocks, if you will — of the home. All other building components of the home, referred to as the WFH House, are packed neatly inside for global transport.
Aside from prefabricated ceiling and flooring panels and the roofing framework, the containers’ contents include an insulated bamboo façade that is built around the trio of shipping containers — stacked two high and one low — transforming the structure into a lovely modern home where all traces of the containers' industrial past are obscured ... seriously, there's not an inch of corrugated metal to be seen as far as I can tell.
You may wonder what the point of living in a shipping container home is if the shipping containers are completely concealed both inside and out. Well, that’s pretty much the point of this modular green housing concept that Arcgency dubs as being “more than architecture; it is a sustainable product.”
Topped with a sloping vegetative roof for that's both optimized for rainwater harvesting and features integrated solar cells, the “resource conscious” and potentially carbon-neutral WFH House follows international Active House design standards (apparently, it's the first modular housing system designed to meet stringent Active House qualifications).
And in case you were wondering, this Denmark-borne green building movement which made its stateside debut last year has nothing to do with Passivhaus. It's essentially a holistic take on net-zero energy building in which homes create "healthier and more comfortable lives for their occupants without negative impact on the climate — moving us towards a cleaner, healthier and safer world.” Overall, the WFH House's energy profile is 50 percent lower than the standards required for newly built homes in Denmark.
So-called Nordic design values also play a large part in the overall vision of the WFH House. Arcgency defines these values as:
• Build for people, human values. Good daylight conditions, different types of light.
• Reliable (long term) solutions. Healthy materials, recyclable materials, design for disassembly strategies.
• Materials that age gracefully.
• Access to nature, greenery.
• Minimalistic look.
And then there's the soaring, daylight-strewn center of the WFH House called the FLEX space that's situated in between the two rows of modules and also includes the second floor landing. The four bedrooms are located within the somewhat narrow confines of the shipping container skeleton on each end of the Flex space. However, there's the flexibility to play around with the configurations and expand the rooms.
The FLEX space is the heart of the house. It contains the living room, kitchen and can be used for multiple purposes. Parts of the room are double height, creating perfect lighting conditions. The rest of the space is one story height, defined by the landing that creates access to the spaces on the second floor. In each end of the FLEX space there is access to the surroundings and daylight. The boundary between inside and outside disappears, when the doors open. This is a fundamental part of the design; to be able to open let nature in. It is a consequence of having varying requirements for inside temperature and definitions of what domestic functions takes place inside and outside.
Other features of the 1,940-square-foot home include underground rainwater storage with a grey water treatment system, an energy management system, permeable paving, lots of skylights, and a sticker price that’s “competitive in comparison with other green houses.” And given its modular nature, the WFH House is completely customizable via an online personalization system. Naturally, it's quick to construct ... and then disassemble for recycling or relocation:
The WFH concept is a modular concept, based on a design principle, using 40 feet high cube standard modules as structural system. The structure can be adapted to local challenges such as climatic or earthquake issues. Online customization-tools give clients the possibility to decide their own version of the house concerning layout, size, facade, interior etc. The configuration happens within a predefined framework that will ensure high architectural value and quality of materials. Building-components are prefabricated and on site construction can be limited.