In 1937, a young trucker named Malcolm McLean was delivering a load of cotton to a harbor in Hoboken, New Jersey. As he watched workers slowly transport the boxes by hand onto a ship, the story goes, he thought there had to be a better way to do it.
It turns out, there was: a big metal box that could be detached from the truck transporting it, and put on a ship. And about 20 years after first envisaging it, McLean was ready to show his invention to the world.
He loaded a former war tanker with 58 “trailer vans,” as The New York Times called them in 1956, and set off to change history. Little did McLean know that the intermodal container, as it would later be called, would not only revolutionize trade by decimating the cost of shipping, but it would also find a second life through architecture.
Container homes are varied in style and cost. Some are affordable, configurable and eco-conscious, such as the prefab ones made by Wisconsin-based Mods International. The company sells a fully ready, no-frills, 160-foot container home on Amazon for $23,000.
Others go straight for the wow factor, such as the Joshua Tree Residence, a 2,100-square-foot house made from white containers bursting out from a central point, to be built in 2018 just outside California’s Joshua Tree National Park.
Question: Would you buy a container home?