Cargotecture by HyBrid Architecture

Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, Calif. was held at the beginning of June, and one of the stars of the show was the cargotecture c-series Sunset Idea House by HyBrid Architecture. The c-series represents a group of pre-designed, factory built units made from recycled cargo containers that can be combined or customized as desired by the owner.

Hybrid coined the term cargotecture to describe any structure built partially or entirely from recycled cargo containers. The c-series consists of five models ranging in price from $29,500 to $189,500. The home featured at the Sunset show was the c192 nomad which costs $59,500.

The prices of the c-series include:

  • Recycled ISO cargo container with new paint
  • Soy based spray foam insulation
  • Aluminum clad wood windows and doors (one 10 feet long opening and one side door)
  • Bamboo finish floor
  • 5/8 inch drywall ceiling and walls
  • Panelized wet room bath with redwood decking.
  • Duravit bath fixtures
  • IKEA cabinets and kitchen fixtures and lighting
  • Summit appliances
  • 30 gallon electric water heater (gas if available on site)
  • Convectair Apero heat
  • Factory plans, State L&I permits and inspections

Green and off-grid options are offered including solar panels, composting toilets and “green machine” sewage treatment and roofwater harvesting.

All the models are insulated about 15 percent above IBC and UBC building codes in the floors, walls and roofs. The building can be placed in cold climates as well as moderate to hot climates. The recycled plastic and soy sprayed-in insulation creates R24 walls, R44 ceilings, and R32 floors. The roofs can handle 60psf snow loads.

The HyBrid homes are shipped complete. A local contractor will need to be arranged for electrical and sewage hook-ups as well as foundation work. In many jurisdictions, if your project is less than 200sf there is no permitting process required. HyBrid has completed residential and commercial cargotecture projects in California, Oregon and Washington and has designed over 20 projects on 5 continents. They will ship their cargotecture homes worldwide.

Photos courtesy of Hybrid Architecture

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

27 thoughts on “Cargotecture by HyBrid Architecture”

  1. I think these are way over priced. They still look like containers with no attempt to clad the exteriour walls or to put a sloping roof on. The big cargo doors weigh an enormous amount . Poor value for money in my opinion

    • I’m a builder and own land and a container and I still may pay for one of theses. By the time you add up the costs of a kitchen, bathroom, flooring, electrical, plumbing, wall finishes, a high level of professional design, walls, windows. doors and I think the costs are about right. You can pay alot more just for a camp trailer. When I subtract material costs and then wages it becomes more than competitive.

  2. Hope there’s a curtain or something for privacy around the toilet but a nice light interior overall. Obviously a dry climate setup, you’d have an overhead pool in no time with that canopy in any kind of rain! You can always make outdoor wall hangings or wooden screens or some other artsy proect to soften the look of the exterior though some people prefer that industrial look. I’d take advantage of that strong roof and put a deck up there, maybe a nice container kitchen garden (deer proof!!). Bit over my price range but not too outrageous for a fully fitted out ready to go habitat. Depends a lot on final costs after shipping and setup.

    • first thought- how cool.
      second thought – no curtain. So you sit on the John with ” whew” facing the kitchen and glass dividing – oh – –
      The other thought – the sound of rain – awesome, but VERY loud in a metal box no matter the insulation. It’s cool looking though –
      A bit pricey for what you get, and i understand – it is not over priced but some methods are more feasible than others.

  3. Actually for the design, labor and materials, costs are in line but… the tiny house movement is about the self empowerment of change. For anyone willing to learn a few new skills, these things in the SF bay area can be found in storage yards and had for pennies. I have purchased a 20′ box yet to be picked up for $200 and moved to my property. With little effort, they become instant workshops, second home office and of course the perfect place to put guests. Nothing else out there like these for the value!

    • People seek tiny homes for many reasons, and not everyone is able to build their own. I have a health condition that severely limits my actions.

      I’m glad there are options for people who are unable to build their own homes.

  4. I actually really like this, think it’s bright and airy (which is likely why the bathroom is glass enclosed, to keep visual space open. Quite honestly, I try to be kind and not expose my @ss to the outside world so nobody loses their last meal, but other than having the bathroom enclosed in solid walls, I can’t see many changes I would like to make. And I think the price is fine, especially given the list of inclusions. Lovely. 🙂

    • Love the idea!
      Regarding the privacy v. open feeling: I would frost (sand blast) the bathroom walls up to about 4 or 5 feet.

      I am a Vietnam Vet, trying to help find housing for the many homeless Vets in my area. I have envisioned clusters of this type of housing adjoining a larger common area. It’s a challenge finding the land and the community acceptance of such a project.

  5. WAAAAAAAAY over priced. One of the major benefits of a tiny home is affordability. Apparently no one told the people that built this.

  6. I like it. I would enjoy living in this house. However, I would place the sofa-bed along one of the long sides, so that I could install closets where the sofa-bed now rests. I also would slant the exterior fabric canopy downward, to avoid having unexpected rainfall pouring (or splashing) into the entrance of the house. Keep these ideas coming!

  7. ‘build a better mousetrap’…I think it’s a sign of the times that companies are actually making upscale homes from containers; obviously the market it there, just as builders of other tiny houses are finding. It doesn’t mean the do it yourself person can’t forge ahead with their own projects, it just means the movement is no longer an aberration to the building sector. Which I think is great! I personally don’t care much for how this container is fitted out, except for the doors, but I love the deck area. And I really like the fact that more and more people are thinking small and practical versus McMansions (there will always be those).We can all use ideas like the above to either get one, or just use some of the ideas from it while building our own. More power to ’em!

  8. “Cargotecture” – a new favorite word 🙂
    I would agree w/@Phil that other tiny homes are more affordable than this style – I guess you pay for the industrial look with cargotecture.


  9. I’m not as concerned about privacy in the bathroom as the question of how long you would have to wait after a shower for it to dry out enough for someone to enter and use the toilet. Of course the TP would have to be stored outside the room too.

  10. All the complaints about the bathroom are a bit much – it’s not hard to hang a curtain if visibility bothers you. Of course you could also apply something to frost the glass, too.

    Regarding the moisture – open the door!

  11. I’m truly disappointed that not one architect can comprehend the saying, “don’t $— where you eat.” I get it that the plumbing is more conveniently located if things are in the same area, but wouldn’t the extra couple of hundred dollars be better spent if things that could potentially make you sick are kept as far apart as practical. And yeah, I also hate the idea of the glass wall. Cleaning nightmare as well as too exhibitionist for me.

  12. The bathroom is in fact typically frosted but not displayed that way for clarity.

    The costs are very competitive when all of the utilities and appliances and finish are considered. After all, it is not a container anymore, it is a home. Not cheap to build and pre-permit in a factory.

    The steel of the containers could be cheap or even free, but they have no effect on the permit-required components that make up a home. Water heater costs the same, etc. In fact some micro appliances cost more, and that micro bathroom certainly cost more than a normal sized bathroom.

    But that’s how we build sailboat-like interiors with ample built-in storage and flip down beds and securable barn door walls. Not cheap, but that’s how you live in a small relocatable space.

    HyBrid is an award winning firm for affordable housing- in wood. Site built or built in panels. Affordability starts there. Containers unfortunately are not a good candidate for affordable housing. But wood structures are. See our websites and for more.

    Best, Joel

    • “Site built or built in panels. Affordability starts there. Containers unfortunately are not a good candidate for affordable housing. But wood structures are.”

      I have serious difficulty believing the second sentence of this quote. I’m certain HyBrid is able to buy quality containers in large quantities at deep discounts, the ease of proving structural integrity for permitting is a no-brainer. The blueprint was developed by the mobile home industry for permitting, you’re not reinventing anything. If anything, permitting should be less expensive for a container-based structure, since it is much easier to protect the utilities built into it. The mobile/modular industry proved long ago that factory construction units are less expensive than site-built structures, so I don’t buy that argument, either.

      Transportation is also less expensive, if a roll-off trailer is used instead or requiring a crane to be on-site to offload the unit. The foundation can be built, in a majority of cases, to accommodate this delivery method.

      Joel, you need to look at your market much more closely. For a single person that’s downsizing, as many baby-boomers (like me) are, something like your Sunset are affordable and much sturdier than the “mobile home” or “park model” alternative as a complete home. A unit like this should also be readily accepted into mobile home parks that cater to park model units.

      I’m guessing that a 36′ unit comprising kitchen, dining/living area and laundry/bathroom area would be no mere expensive than your Sunset. In a couple of years, for me, this would be an ideal base for a home that will add bedrooms as external structures when needed.

      Please don’t give up on cargotecture, and don’t feel that this site is the only source for input on what affordable housing is. Even if built in a Container City style complex, $60,000 per unit
      is not out of the ballpark.

  13. Driving down the price is essential in grabbing a larger share of the market. I understand that living small isn’t just another way of saying “living cheap”, there is also reasons other than monitory that drive people to do so…..environmental, political, and philosophical.

    But sacrificing “large” living should mean less money.

    Maybe a method of selling the container with the wiring, plumbing and major structural changes done, but allowing those final/personal changes completed by the new home owner…on their time and dime?

  14. Environmental issues can be met by buying a foreclosed home that is wasting away and breathing new life and conservation/efficentcy into it.

  15. I look at the prices of these in the USA and Canada and cannot imagine paying those prices here in Thailand. I want a container home but the cost of the container is what I would pay for a finished house on the beach.

    Kinda sad that this has become a fad.


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