A few years ago, architect James Whitaker designed an office made from jutting shipping containers. Though striking to look at, it was never built. Fast-forward to this year and a Los Angeles-based film producer happened to see the office online. Inspired, he commissioned Whitaker to make him a solar-powered house based on its design on a large plot of land in Joshua Tree, California.

Though London-based Whitaker is a trained architect, he's also a photographer and digital artist who, as he puts it, "uses a computer to create photographs of things that don't exist." This explains the high quality of his renders – to be clear, the home pictured hasn't actually been built yet, though it's due to start construction sometime in 2018.

The Joshua Tree Residence is planned for a rugged mountainside plot measuring 90 acres (36 hectares) and its interior will comprise a total floorspace of 200 sq m (2,152 sq ft). The original office design (models of which can be seen in the gallery) has been altered a little and the containers will be angled so as to either maximize the view or ensure privacy, depending on the room's intended use.

Inside, the residence will include three bedrooms, a like number of en-suite bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and living room. In addition, the garage will be topped by solar panels that will power the home.

Resembling an oversized spiky cactus rising out of the desert, the Joshua Tree Residence is an impressive-looking luxury home. That said, a skeptical eye must be cast on the containers' heat performance in a desert climate. Put simply, a big metal box is likely to get uncomfortably hot inside when installed in a hot climate.

That's not to say shipping containers can't be used in extreme climates, just that they may not always make sense. We asked Whitaker about the measures that would be taken to cool the home.

"A combination of light paint color on the outside to reflect the heat, and high-performing insulation will be used to reduce heat gain," said the architect. "The windows at the top of the building will swing open to allow hot air to naturally vent out and then finally there will be some air conditioning that will be powered by solar panels."

Perhaps he could install a shipping container-based pool as another apt way of cooling down, too.

View gallery - 12 images