Engel & Völkers Licence Partner South Africa > Blog > Container Homes

Container Homes

Far from being shabby and a little grungy, container homes have slipped into mainstream habitation in many parts of the world and in South Africa the trend has started to take shape, albeit slowly. In recent years, much of the development of shipping container homes has focused on tiny homes and ultra-affordability, but the market for luxury container homes is also growing exponentially.

For a number of architectural firms, the challenge and the innate design potential of shipping containers has forged a budding new aesthetic, one that is becoming notably sought-after amongst those who have the means and the flair for provocative and experimental statements.

But what about the aesthetics of luxury and space?

Wendy Williams, Operations Director of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa explains that building with shipping containers pushes the envelope on a contemporary aesthetic and provides solutions to a number of building challenges.

“Shipping containers allow for the kind of sculptural architecture that - allow me the irony - is completely out the box. It allows a property owner to build in areas where the transportation of building materials is challenging, such as in a desert or at the top of a mountain. The use of containers opens up many possibilities in terms of location and construction that considers the integrity of the environment.”

Nico van der Meulen architects created a house that makes use of sections of shipping containers. The end result is a sculptural masterpiece that is stylish, sleek and a statement in creativity. The house is situated in Kloof Road, at the foot of a nature reserve, in Bedfordview. The house is an integration of glass, steel, timber and concrete. The steel forms visually blur the borders between floors walls and roofs and seamlessly link exterior to interior. 

A Bolthole in the Bush

Edge Design Studio Architects have created a shipping container retreat that is manufactured in a factory and then placed on a flatbed truck and transported to a desired location. The prefabricated house allows for all the creature comforts for a perfect weekend home away from home.

“Container homes defy and challenge tradition. From the perspective of durability, they are structurally sound because, after all, they were made to withstand harsh weather at sea. They are also quicker to build compared to conventional homes because walls, floors and ceilings are already intact, one just needs to insulate and add to the shell,” continues Wendy.

Smooth integration of repurposed and new materials

The Joshua Tree Residence in California has received a lot of attention. The three bedroom, 195 m2 home is located in the California desert and is designed in a distinctive starburst shape with containers extending out in various directions.  Painted bright white, the containers are a conspicuous contrast to the rocky desert terrain. The design takes advantage of the remarkable landscape and maximises views of both earth and sky, while providing privacy to its inhabitants.

Sprawling Family Home

One of the largest shipping container house of its kind in Australia, a three-story residence in Brisbane required 31 containers to achieve 550m2 of floor space. The house was built using ample glass and industrial touches resulting in open spaces, clean lines and plenty of natural light. The quality finishes and bespoke mid-century inspired furniture add to the industrial chic effect.


Sustainability, durability and reusability are all words that have become part of contemporary architecture and design. Issues of sustainability have sparked innovative and creative ways for building homes that are beautiful, environmentally gentle and efficient. As the world turns so does design innovation and container homes fit squarely in this exciting movement.

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Engel & Völkers
Licence Partner South Africa
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