House of the week: Containers

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013

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Ingrid and Cameron Cotton specialise in residential and commercial container builds. These are both of a design and style recognised by awards, yet still easy to build and easy to move.

Their most recent building is a contemporary two-bedroom bach with all the latest innovations: it's hard to recognise that a pair of 40-foot shipping containers are the basis of the structure.

The brief was for a compact and transportable two-bedroom bach.

The response - a pair of recycled containers aligned parallel, creating a depth of space unexpected in container living. The interior is contemporary, belying its steel exterior and history (the two pods were likely to have travelled the world in their time as containers).

The flooring is engineered wood, Blackbutt, an Australian hardwood, the ceiling poplar plywood with recessed LED lighting and the walls plywood painted with Resene alabaster.

"We buy containers and fabricate them according to specific design here in Tauranga, including the layout, interior design, lighting, everything," Ingrid Cotton says.

From the establishment of Cubular two years ago, the interest in architecturally designed and styled container use has rocketed.

"In this latest [building] we've used louvres so airflow can be controlled, big sliding doors, a smart lighting fitout and painted the Corten steel exterior with Hempel matt black, a paint that's specific for containers, then added feature pillars of western red cedar flanking the aluminum joinery."

It's the sort of style that won the Cotton team the supreme award at this year's Architectural Designer of New Zealand Awards for their stunning Long Bay Cafe, combining four black shipping containers with a glass atrium.

"We recycle where possible and our contractors are or local so our carbon footprint is low. We configure for freighting and then form the building on site."

Decking and glassed atriums are all possible once the containers are in situ.

The container concept is stretching in use, from baches and a cafe to now, currently in the construction stage, a classroom with office.

"It's quick, yet unique and stylish and able to be transported anywhere. And, we can accommodate a budget, so construction costs can range from $1600 a square metre to $3000."

What makes the Cubular construction so very special is that it can move with the family. Depending on changing circumstances the holiday bach can relocate to wherever the next preferred location is.

"On the other hand we can equally do a substantial and permanent build."


Build cost/square metre: $2700/square metre

Size: 61sqm

Architectural Designers: Cameron and Ingrid Cotton

Cubular Materials: Two 40-foot Corten steel containers, plywood interior linings, T&G flooring

Energy efficiency: Double glazing, insulation in ceiling, underfloor and walls. A heat pump provides both heating and cooling.

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Done right: Everything! Staying with the plan from beginning to end with an excellent team creating required results.

Done wrong: It's an ever-evolving product with a multiple of applications which are forever improving and groundbreaking.

Unexpected: The amount of warmth and homeliness sensed internally, the feeling of light and spaciousness in a compact space.

Recommend: Container buildings with innovative architecture, flexible design and solid construction, easily transported and applicable on any site.

Next time: To do another, a series of containers, something bigger with the same sense of style and creativity. The possibility of two storey is there, it's possible to stack containers to create two levels.

- © Fairfax NZ News


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