Sri Lanka Shipping Container Retreat

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Sri Lanka Shipping Container Retreat

A friend and fellow tiny house lover recently sent me this link from Container Home on this shipping container cabin retreat in Sri Lanka. The house was constructed with local reclaimed material in about a month by architect Damith Premathilake. The tiny house is located on an Army base and was built for a lieutenant colonel.

The 700 square foot retreat is constructed of two shipping containers, timber strips from old bunkers and weapons boxes and used railway sleepers. It is designed to embrace the views and climate of the surrounding environment, and create a place of relaxation and beauty while using already available resources.

Photos by Logan MacDougall Pope


By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

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jlbraun - June 27, 2011

Using shipping containers as houses is a spectacularly bad idea given the amount and nature of toxins involved. This one takes the cake. Railway sleepers? Soaked in carcinogenic creosote and other preservatives. Weapons boxes? Contaminated with explosives byproducts and leachants, of which benzene is but one of the *least* carcinogenic/mutagenic. Shipping containers themselves have floors coated in pesticides, and the walls of the containers are painted with marine paints containing phosphate and lead compounds which are a respiratory hazard.

Seriously, does *anyone* think this through before building one of these things? Ugh.

    PJ - June 27, 2011

    Oh, and jlbraun, you’re rude.

      v - June 28, 2011

      not rude. Just has a well stated opinion that is not fluffy.
      It is a great idea to recycle but one needs to know the down side of things.

      those who are rude are the ones actually calling others rude.

      For those who think containers ARE the best thing since sloppy joes, i think a trip to a container ship might be in order. There is a reason that cds are double boxes, double plastic and sealed… ugh….

Angie - June 27, 2011

all the above may be totally true.

But, that is a neat design that someone could use for copying or inspiration using safer materials.

I like the open doors on each side for the breezeway effect.

PJ - June 27, 2011

Too cool, in every way! I love it.

robin yates - June 27, 2011

I agree totally about the use of railway sleepers and weapons boxes but disagree with all the other comments. When a shipping container arrives on site, it is gutted. New floors are fitted, the existing paintwork is cleaned and new paint applied. The outside is usually reclad or a cement type product sprayed on.This particular example looks ok for spending leisure time in a beautiful environment.Remember also this is in a third world country where different standards apply,.I love it

    v - June 28, 2011

    third world and different standards apply?
    are Humans less if in a thirdworld…?
    People do what then need to do to survive. doesnt mean that what they do is safe or is anything that reasonable, educated people should allow. Instead bringing people up to a good level or better of living is a task for the HAVES. Certainly we should not be consuming the HAVENOTS.

      robin yates - June 28, 2011

      I live in a third world country, the philippines,My house was built of concrete using local labour. The scaffolding they used was coco lumber,,,,, coconut trees, not up to western standards but there were no accidents on my build. They wear flipflops not work boots, no damaged feet here.I accept their way of doing stuff,it is their country after all

        v - June 28, 2011

        i read in this that you are a HAVE and dont care about HAVENOTS.
        your choice.
        your opinion and your method of action.
        Tobacco companies think that way too…
        the design is interesting and so different than the peaked roofs…
        the view has a lot of impact.
        but that is tru with many of our tiny houses.

Jennifer - June 27, 2011

if your afraid of shipping containers, how do you think your fruit gets from one side of the country to the other?

Why can’t people keep their negative thoughts to themselves.

I personally like the layout. A deck on top is an amazing use of space when you have only a small piece of land.

    Josh - June 27, 2011

    if your[sic] afraid of shipping containers, how do you think your fruit gets from one side of the country to the other?

    Do fruits have respiratory systems that would be capable of inhaling chemicals in the air? If you answered yes, look in the mirror to find someone who failed biology. And we already know they’re covered in pesticides. You do wash your fruit before you eat it, right? If you don’t, look in the mirror again to see someone who’s foolish and ignorant of how food is grown.

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - June 27, 2011

Wow! What a view. That is just an awesome way to live and I love that shipping containers are reused as homes.

Claudia - June 27, 2011

I love it! Especially the decks, which take full advantage of the beautiful setting.

As for jlbraun’s rudely-stated but nonetheless valid concerns, you can always buy a new shipping container instead of a used one.

Kat - June 27, 2011

Personally, I would never buy fruit/food from so far away it required a shipping container.

jbraun’s concerns are factual and opinions are just that. I actually think its rude to tell someone their thoughts should be suppressed. You don’t like what he has to say…move on.

That said, it is a great design and the view is just incredible.

    v - June 28, 2011

    negative comments are as important as positive ones.

    Whatever we do, we need to know the entire scope of the project. I happen to like the idea of containers, but
    the containe would be melted and resued so sparing the physical object is a REUSE and the costs and the other issues involved in making it ready for humans comes at a waste in other areas.. like use of water to clean and other chemicals to neutralize and electricity for the tools to fix it…Anyone who thinks that there aret HIDDEN COSTS in anything that supposedly saves money or saves the earth isnt seeing the SCOPE.

    I like this plan. Doesnt have to be a container at all. would looks great with logs too.

      Irene - June 28, 2011

      Truth be told, I have just learned from where I work that shipping pallets are almost always treated with pesticides. A batch of a drug my company makes was transported on wooden shipping pallets as opposed to the typical plastic (I learned all of this in a meeting). Although the drugs were in sealed containers (they were non-generic so they had the safety seals, the silica thing to prevent moisture, etc), when patients opened the bottles they smelled a pesticidal smell and were afraid to take the drug.

      Point being, there are a lot of people who have made posts on this blog about building things like makeshift furniture and even small homes with wooden pallets. I think it’s responsible to point out that these things are treated with chemicals; I think it’s cro-mag to tell people they are stupid or failed biology because they attempted to make something out of one of the pallets. Open discourse ceases to be open when you make someone feel stupid with your remarks, or in some of the cases above, flat-out tell them as much.

      There are some people here who really need a crash course in manners and anti-@ssholish behavior.

Sam - June 27, 2011

Absolutely adore this! Love everything about it..:)

TM - June 28, 2011

I honestly can say I didn’t know all about the bad chemicals in used shipping containers . But I do admit that I love the design , the cover deck above . I just wish that the stairs could be installed insides , rather outside like the housing in Asia . ( I don’t like the idea some one can come to the deck without the owner knowledge )
In Asia , since their land are small , they always have deck on top of their roof so they can use it for fresh air in privacy & to dry their clothes without getting lost ( people may steal it ) and they always have a few plants in the pots as their small garden . I love this concept . Wonder how much it cost ? Thanks for sharing . TM.

Bo - June 28, 2011

I’d worry about the materials used here as well, but the design is very nice. And – I believe – fairly typical for Sri Lanka. Shigeru Ban did similar relief housing in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in ’04.

    robin yates - June 28, 2011

    I checked the link and there was no mention of containers, The emergency houses were made of compressed earth blocks

      v - June 28, 2011

      this statement leads one to believe that the first statement couldnot possibly be true.
      There is no absolute when people get together and provide for others.
      certainly there is room for BOTH avenues of housing along with tents and other building products.
      Englarging ones field of vision on a topic, in my opinion, is another benefit of comments.
      A quick internet lookup with the potential of limited search criteria is a wee bit limiting and possibly inaccurate for me…

      Bo - June 28, 2011

      Sorry – I was not very clear in my post. I was referring to the general design idea (the 2 enclosed smaller rooms with an adjacent larger open room), not the actual use of containers (or railroad ties). As a design idea I think it is very nice in its simplicity. I can’t say anything about the safety of the materials used.

garagecat - June 28, 2011

Great use of materials, and view to die for. What more could you want? This idea would make a perfect lake retreat or single person home.

Jason in So Cal - June 28, 2011

I developed a small place in the mountians similar to this. It is more of a Micro Ranch design, but similar in that it uses downed timers from the land and a roof deck.

People can also choose to purchase a NEW container if they choose instead of a used one. Although used is quite cheaper. Nice place, do you happen to have any pictures of the interior?

alice - June 28, 2011

Love the covered upper deck, perfect for the wet coast. The proportions are quite elegant too. The advantage of using containers for something like this is the built in load bearing structure, allowing topside decks or stacked containers or a variety of designs without having to add a lot of extra beams and posts. I like the design, could definitely see adapting it for some kind of post and beam or other structure.

Peter Bangs - June 29, 2011

Well at least we all seem agreed it’s a great design even if we can’t all agree on the materials used.

29 | Juni | 2011 | Architekturlinks - June 29, 2011

[…] Sri Lanka Shipping Container Retreat – Tiny House Blog (tags: Container Mobilehome SriLanka) […]

Corby - June 29, 2011

After reading some of the comments here, the idea of living in a cookie cutter subdivision doesn’t sound as unappealing as it once did. Maybe there are some good reasons people surround themselves with 2,000+ square feet of domicile and huge yards!

For the record, I have never lived in anything larger than 350 square feet, so… don’t shoot me! (Not for over consumption, at least.)

Corby - June 29, 2011

Oh, by the way… The Sri Lankan Retreat looks mad cool!

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