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  • Deen Gabriel

This high-end Cape house was built from shipping containers

In South Africa, we’ve seen containers being used for site offices, ablution units and RDP housing, but it has only been in the last couple of years that they have been adapted for high-end residences.

The advantages of using shipping containers are numerous: containers are relatively affordable with building costs starting from as low as R6,000 per square metre; and as it uses existing containers, it’s considered to be a more eco-friendly building method than building a new home with bricks. They are also quicker to build than traditional bricks and mortar homes with minimal on-site time and disturbance, and if properly maintained, the lifespan of a container is indefinite.

The only drawback is that you need to have cash in hand to build with containers, as local banks still don’t offer home loans for this type of building method. You also have to get a building permit and adhere to building codes.

The modular nature of shipping containers means that you can design your home as if building with toy blocks – and dream up your dream space by ‘stacking’ the containers horizontally and/ or vertically and any way imaginable. 

And this home in Riebeek West, about 75km outside of Cape Town, is proof that the result can be quite beautiful. It uses a clever combination of steel beams, bricks and mortar, and 5 containers. The framework for the structure is steel with 5 containers that fit snugly inside – 3 below and 2 on top. The bottom 3 containers rest on a concrete floor into which the steel columns were planted for the frame. 

This home is featured in the September 2019 issue of Home magazine. This issue also features various homes constructed using alternative building methods: An awe-inspiring timber cabin outside Stanford; a light-steel frame house in Rosendal, a home made from recycled bricks outside Stellenbosch, as well as a previously dilapidated wine cellar in Robertson which has been transformed into modern accommodation. 

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