Thanks to their size, strength and ease of transport, shipping containers have been embraced by architects who have turned them into everything from restaurants and off-grid homes, to school classrooms and modular, portable hotels. The “Eco-Pak” home doesn’t just renovate the inside of a shipping container, but uses a shipping container as an integral part of a larger building, with all the structural components contained within it so it can be delivered just about anywhere in one convenient package.

The “Eco-Pak” home is the brainchild of aircraft structural engineer James Green of Building Container LLC, who was recently granted a U.S. patent for the concept, with international patents also pending. He teamed with Seattle-based architect Matthew Coates to make his vision of a transportable, eco-friendly, low cost, structurally sound container home a reality after being tasked with designing and building a home in remote Turkey without using a conventional concrete foundation.

His idea was to include extended framework transported within the container to form the structure of the house. The original prototype was completed in Turkey using basic tools and equipment, and the team has now developed a method for producing the extended framework using automated machinery based on 2D computer drawings and 3D models.

While the shipping container is integrated into the structure of the home, becoming anything from a kitchen to a bedroom, the extended structure is attached to the container’s “strong points” and can be assembled with no special tools, equipment or skills required.

The extended framework, which typically relies on standard steel beam sections with added reinforcement where necessary, can include full or partial extensions, balconies and changes in the apex of the roof. Other features will also be made available as options, with prices dependent on demand and a design service offered for custom structure design.

Coates’ Seattle-based company, Coates Design, will now build a prototype in the Seattle area, which is due to be completed in early 2013.

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