Squirrel Park turns shipping containers into affordable housing units
In recent years, shipping container architecture has been moving forward as a real-world solution for affordable housing. What’s even more impressive is that savvy architects around the globe are finding new ways to create inexpensive, practical living spaces without sacrificing comfort and style. London-based firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris has done just that with Squirrel Park, a shipping-container housing development in Oklahoma City that combines the best of green building with sophisticated design.
The large shipping container complex contains four two-bedroom homes built on a 27,000-square-foot plot of land. The firm used 16 reclaimed steel shipping containers to construct the four homes, which were built on a tight budget of $1.1 million.
The individual units feature two containers on the ground floor that house the living room, kitchen and dining areas. Two more containers, for the home’s two bedrooms, were cantilevered over the ground floor to create a sheltered porch below and a first-floor balcony for the master bedroom.
Keeping Oklahoma’s extremely hot and humid climate in mind, the team painted the exterior of the shipping containers white to reduce solar heat gain and added mirrored strips to reflect the sun’s glare. The containers were also cut to make way for large windows that provide natural light and air ventilation.
The interiors are light and airy to give the living spaces a modern feel. An extremely tight exterior envelope and high degree of insulation will keep the homes energy-efficient and at stable interior temperatures year-round. Residents will be able to enjoy a number of extra amenities, such as the spacious front porches with porch swings, which lend a dose of traditional charm to the otherwise modern structures.
Working around the local landscape and weather conditions, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris elevated the houses off the landscape on pile footings to allow for optimal surface draining. The firm also planted the surrounding landscape with specific greenery to catch and absorb rainwater runoff. Because Oklahoma is in the middle of Tornado Alley, the container homes were reinforced to be as resilient as possible by welding steel tubes into plates in the foundations. There is also an eight-person tornado shelter built underground.
In addition to its many sustainable features, the project will also help people who are struggling to get back on their feet. The owner of the property, who also plans to live onsite, runs a local restaurant that often hires individuals who have been incarcerated and strives to give back to the local community. As such, the homes will be made available to residents for “competitive market rates.”