Launch Slideshow

Two Firms Design/Build First Shipping Container House in Mojave Desert

Green design plays a major role.

Two Firms Design/Build First Shipping Container House in Mojave Desert

Green design plays a major role.

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    The home is equipped with water-conserving faucets, integrated greywater, and water harvesting and storage systems.

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    A view from the bedroom offers unobstructed views to the California desert.

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    Large openings allow light to filter into all public and private spaces.

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    A shaded solar breezeway provides a protected and naturally cooled outdoor room that extends the interior living spaces.

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    The breezeway as seen from above.

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    The stairway is curved and sheathed in recycled, corrugated metal with a vertical-slit window facing east to distribute morning light evenly across the walls of the 18-foot-high stairwell.

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    A solar shade canopy wraps the roof and south and west sides of the residence and solar breezeway to provide protection against desert heat, glare, wind, and blowing dust.

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    The floor in the  kitchen (and throughout) is made from recycled Philippine mahogany plywood that can be easily sanded down and refinished.

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    Built-ins offer a place for storage in the living room.

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    A 160-square-foot green roof made up of drought-tolerant, native plant modules is placed on the second floor shade framing.

Ecotechdesign and its subsidiary ecotechbuild have completed what they say is the first permitted shipping container house in the Mojave Desert, near Joshua Tree, Calif.

“By combining high-efficiency and mass-produced modular construction methods with innovative design in one of the harshest climate zones in North America, we have developed a low-cost, sustainable, housing system that can be transported and quickly erected anywhere in the world,” says architect Walter Scott Perry, principal of ecotechdesign and founder of ecotechbuild.

Known as The Tim Palen Studio at Shadow Mountain, the container hybrid house prototype is a second-generation prefab design that consists of cargo containers and pre-engineered steel building components that were erected on site. It measures 2,300 square feet and has one bedroom, one and a half baths, and a studio. “The typical housing project in San Bernardino County takes one to three months to go through entitlement and permitting alone,” says contractor Eric Engheben, president of 44 West Construction. “Our project was approved and permitted in just one week.”

In addition to the speed of construction, the hybrid system allows home buyers to select a variety of green options. For example, the Palen Studio comes with a green roof, greywater recycling and water harvesting, solar shading, recycled flooring, solar daylight tubes, natural ventilation, solar power, and roof-mounted solar hot water panels that support a radiant floor heating system.

This kit-like housing product is being offered for the first time to homeowners who want more than what is currently available with pre-fab and manufactured housing, even custom construction, the companies say.