Designing a shipping container house for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (GISH)

We’ve been moving into our new house! The past two weeks have been physically exhausting, but great fun. We are finally unpacked, and enjoying having a garden for change – just in time to enjoy this wonderful weather in the UK. The building itself is a 1930s council house, and its true what they say; ‘they don’t make ’em like that any more.’ Once I’ve finished drawing up the house in Archicad I may have to do a blog post to share what I’ve been doing.

Somewhere within the past two weeks I managed to fit in a fun little project for Kirsty (my wife) who had been taking part in the week-long scavenger hunt GISH, where people taking part carry out fun/crazy/charitable tasks and it just so happened that one of the tasks was to:

Submit Bonafide architectural drawings (that can’t already be found on the Internet) for a homemade from two shipping containers. Must have a kitchen, bathroom, and windows.

Obviously, with my background and experience I leapt at the opportunity and agreed to mock up a really sketchy design for submission. It was great fun, and shipping container architecture was something that I’d wanted to look at for a while!

After a quick sketch around and a bit of modelling in Archicad I managed to come up with this:

The main idea was to stack and stagger the two container units so that it created a sheltered area, for planters and even a swing set. The floor plan is fairly bare, with a small kitchen/dining space on the ground floor but with consideration given to how the staircase winds up into the main bedroom space. The bed on the higher floor is extra large to take up the whole width of the container, with views directed out, through folding doors over the balcony area and beyond.

(Tea and Crumpets was the team name, as some members were from the UK, and others were from the US! Go team Tea and Crumpets!)

Structural Efficiency with Grasshopper and Galapagos

One of my latest obsessions has been tinkering with Rhinoceros and Grasshopper – whilst I still have my 90 day trial of the software, i’ve been trying to teach myself as much as possible about the benefits of coding in design/architecture. The blog ‘I Eat Bugs For Breakfast‘ by David Rutten has been invaluable in explaining many of the subtleties of the software.

I had originally heard about Grasshopper and parametric design in an interview with Bjarke Ingels of BIG architects (BIG.dk) where they stated that the connection with coded elements was crucial to their design strategies, allowing them to quickly iterate through options and form amazing computer generated landscapes.

The software also happens to work really well with ARCHICAD – the BIM software that the practice I work at has invested in, so it seems like a good match.

I created a little video that walks through one use-case I’ve found for the software, in helping to advise/evolve a solution to calculating efficient timber spans for floors (not very exotic, I know – but handy nonetheless), for giving a good estimate on structural depths whilst minimising the amount of timber required for the build.

Disclaimer: as architects we never advise on actual structural elements, and cannot guarantee any safety – that’s what structural engineers are brought on board for – but in any case, it’s always nice to get an idea of the structural zone the building will require…

Please see the video below:

See the grasshopper script here:

 

Grasshopper complete script – click to maximise screenshot

So all in all, a very fun and interesting project, definitely with some scope for development as well as fine tuning — I’m also quite sure that there has to be an easier way of performing a few of the procedures, but for the time being I am  really enjoying the process! If you’ve got any questions or comments on the script, let me know in the comments.

My previous Grasshopper script was a push-pull brick facade generator (very pretty), which I hope to also do a video about as well, so stay tuned for that!

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