Upcycled Shipping Container Microhouse | Sukshm | SWS 001

Student : Shivam Arya

Semester : Sixth

Course : Bachelor of Architecture

Institution : Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi

Project Year : 2020

Project Type : Competition Entry – 2nd RunnerUp at Micronation Competition 1


Project Brief

The competition brief was quite simple. We were asked to design a microhouse living concept on a hypothetical site of 5mx5m with basic living requirements as provided with proper planning, sections, illustrations and other explanatory details as per participants’ interest.

Research and Concept Synthesis

Though the provided brief was straightforward but the challenge was to come up with a unique spatial algorithm. I started bifurcating the brief and thought of going in detail of every aspect and requirements.

Upon doing enough research on materials and existing microhousing trends, I finally came up with an adaptable design – which was upcycling of shipping container. I found this to be practical as well as environment friendly. My focus was to showcase sustainability factors in design when added to fulfilling design brief requirements.

Although shipping containers have been employed practically in many affordable housing projects, my input to this was creating a better responsive spatial arrangement while using every surface as an opportunity for enhancing energy efficiency and biodiversity.

Design Features

Summing up all the research, Sukshm concept was formed which would showcase sustainability as well as environmental friendly approach to design that could be dismantled and transported easily as owner’s requirement. The various aspects were:

  • Using upcycled shipping containers as building blocks
  • Reusing wooden planks as flooring and staircase
  • Particle board from recycled thatch as interior insulation
  • Green terrace with providing indigenous plants
  • Solar energy generation system

The containers were stacked over each other generating a practical but aesthetic form providing enough space in the common area and privacy as well as free flow in the overall design. Two containers would replicate the ground floor and further the common spaces as living room, kitchen and bathroom as well. The third container would be resting over two providing private space i.e bedroom and study area.

The roof of the ground floor containers were designed as a green terrace
with entrance from the top container as well as from the outside strip
garden area. Enough open spaces and recreational areas were enacted in design, like a narrow 1m x 5m garden, connected to a multipurpose staircase with planters integrated.

Competition Feedback

“The concept is plausible. The use of shipping containers for construction of houses is indeed an innovative idea. This idea can be very well implemented in the case dock cities, a very good attempt. Enough open space is provided in this small plot for different purposes, different sets of staircases are provided to reach the first floor. One for indoor connectivity and one for outdoor. The try of incorporating as much greenery in the design is an appreciable attempt.” – MNC

Shivam on Student Works Series

“Upon finding this initiative, I was very much impressed as well as elated as this not only provides insight towards various underlying unique sustainable concepts but also gives online exposure to students. This would as a whole encourage a more active and thoughtful architecture community. Cheers to the Student Works Series and I hope for more student participation in the overall success of this concept.”


If you are a student and interested in sharing your work at our platform, visit the Student Works Series page for details.

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