Architecture

Shipping containers form solar-powered retreat in Australian bush

Shipping containers form solar...
Colo Crossings was built using a total of four shipping containers, which have been heavily modified and arranged around a plunge pool
Colo Crossings was built using a total of four shipping containers, which have been heavily modified and arranged around a plunge pool
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Colo Crossings is located on a bend of the Colo River, roughly 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Sydney
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Colo Crossings is located on a bend of the Colo River, roughly 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Sydney
Colo Crossings was built using a total of four shipping containers, which have been heavily modified and arranged around a plunge pool
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Colo Crossings was built using a total of four shipping containers, which have been heavily modified and arranged around a plunge pool
Colo Crossings' generous glazing has been carefully situated to frame the view but not unduly heat the interior
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Colo Crossings' generous glazing has been carefully situated to frame the view but not unduly heat the interior
Colo Crossings gets water from a rainwater collection system and its power comes from a solar panel setup, though a grid-based connection is also available if needed
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Colo Crossings gets water from a rainwater collection system and its power comes from a solar panel setup, though a grid-based connection is also available if needed
Colo Crossings' shipping containers are raised above the site's sandstone bedrock with steel structural supports
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Colo Crossings' shipping containers are raised above the site's sandstone bedrock with steel structural supports
Colo Crossings' bedrooms and living area are connected with a glazed corridor
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Colo Crossings' bedrooms and living area are connected with a glazed corridor
Shipping container-based architecture typically performs very poorly in extremes of heat and cold but Benn + Penna has attempted to mitigate this by adding a lot of insulation
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Shipping container-based architecture typically performs very poorly in extremes of heat and cold but Benn + Penna has attempted to mitigate this by adding a lot of insulation
Colo Crossings features concrete flooring with underfloor heating and a plywood kitchen
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Colo Crossings features concrete flooring with underfloor heating and a plywood kitchen
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From tiny houses to student housing, we continue to be impressed at what architects can make from the humble shipping container. Colo Crossings, from Australian studio Benn + Penna, is definitely one of the better examples of container-based architecture we've seen in a while and takes the form of an attractive solar-powered rural retreat arranged around a plunge pool.

Colo Crossings is located on a steep slope in a bend of New South Wales' Colo River, approximately 100 km (roughly 62 miles) northwest of Sydney.

Structurally, the home consists of four heavily modified shipping containers which are raised above the rocky ground on a steel support structure. Two of the containers have been connected to each other to create an open plan living, kitchen, and dining area, which also contains a bathroom, while another pair form the home's three bedrooms, plus a second bathroom.

The living and bedroom areas are situated on either side of the plunge pool and connected by a glazed corridor, while elsewhere lies a deck offering views of the landscape. The interior decor is tastefully handled throughout and thanks to its open layout and finished walls, Colo Crossings doesn't really resemble a typical container-based house. It has concrete floors and a utilitarian plywood kitchen, while its generous glazing has been situated to frame the view but not unduly heat the interior. The house is warmed by both underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove.

Colo Crossings' generous glazing has been carefully situated to frame the view but not unduly heat the interior
Colo Crossings' generous glazing has been carefully situated to frame the view but not unduly heat the interior

Whenever we cover shipping container-based architecture, we have to mention the frankly terrible performance of the metal boxes in both hot and cold weather. However, Benn + Penna has addressed this by installing lots of insulation.

"The existing sandstone bedrock formed a natural footing which the geotechnical and structural engineers worked with to support the building in an area prone to landslides," explained the firm. "The steel structure anchors into the rock, with exposed members as an expression of the structure; designed to withstand its context for years to come. Internally, concrete flooring and a plywood kitchen nod towards the raw, untampered surrounds. The shipping container walls and the roof are double insulated against the high diurnal range of the area, and a new concrete slab was poured into each container to facilitate thermal mass through multiple north-facing windows."

Colo Crossings gets water from a rainwater collection system and power comes from a solar panel setup, though it also has a grid-based hookup just in case it's needed.

Source: Benn + Penna

View gallery - 8 images
6 comments
6 comments
Nobody
Every time I see so many large windows, I think of all the birds flying into them.
EH
Pretty good, especially compared to some other container houses I've seen - though I wonder if there was really any savings to using shipping containers. Many designs don't modify the containers and are pretty terrible. Cutting the panels of a container apart widens the possibilities quite a bit. Using the corrugated sides as leave-in-place forms / reinforcement for concrete floors/ceilings seems like a good idea, for instance. Going the other direction, a house built in a shipping container size that was transportable by standard heavy truck would be interesting.
TpPa
Yes it is a nice build, but I did not see a solar array in any of the picture's, except perhaps one sitting upon the rain collection tank?
Nayehieona
Greetings. The Coli Ceossings Home is
Marvelous! They have captured the essence of my Dream Home.
GOD Bless.
dcris
No pics of the kitchen and bath....ahhhhhh.....it all counts.... amazing what you can do with the shipping containers.... always fun to view.
Trev the Builder
We tried many different approaches to make Container homes work in a cost efficient manner. When one cuts the side out to create an aperture for window or door, joint containers to get width or any modification to the Container it affects its structural integrity and goes like a piece of wet toast and requires fortification with steel. These are limitations in application. In some case it was more efficient to start from scratch. There are a plethora of considerations for application. The construction is more novel than efficient. Cheers