Containers on Grand: Market Rate Apartments in Phoenix

Containers on Grand Rendering

Of all the features we’ve written thus far, we are especially excited about Containers on Grand. Why? Because it’s located right in our backyard and we were able to physically see the project in the making. This project was designed and is being constructed by Stark James, LLC, a Scottsdale based firm.  While construction to complete the property, which will total eight studio apartments, is still in process we were able to pay a visit to the site and talk with architect Wesley James.

Containers on Ground - Under construction
Four of the eight total units on the property.

This property is atop an approximate 12,000 square foot lot.  Each apartment is formed by two 40ft high cube containers.  There are four sets of two unit “buildings” whereby one apartment is directly above the ground unit. These studio apartments will be approximately 740 sq ft with the kitchen and bathroom being housed in what Wesley stated as a masonry core. Without the masonry core the interior space of the two containers is roughly 640 sq ft.  Once improvements are made to the containers in order to make them livable you are expected to lose some interior space.  Wesley estimated you lose about 8″-10″ inches on each side from the spray insulation.  By utilizing this masonry core, additional square footage is added increasing the units to their final size of  740 sq ft.  This masonry core is essentially a space between two of the “buildings” where plumbing and other utilities are fed into a traditionally built structure.  This area will house the bathrooms and kitchens for each individual unit.

Between buildings, the masonry core.
Between buildings, the masonry core.

Floor Plan

Wesley and Stark James were not initially motivated to use containers as building materials for their aesthetic appearance but really more because they realized that shipping containers were a very usable good that was otherwise going to be scrapped.  For them, this was a problem that they were driven to solve in some way.  Determining the best way to build with the containers was initially a small challenge however the real challenge for them was navigating the permitting process once they had finalized their architectural plans.  Because containers are not considered by the International Building Code as an accepted building material, this type of construction tends to fall into a special category that has to be looked at by the state on a case by case basis.  With the help of an awesome hard-working team they were able to move through the permitting process and start to finally “break ground” on the project this April.

The idea behind the exterior design of the containers was basically to leave the appearance of the containers exactly how it was.   This is consistent even with the stacking style of the units which is meant to keep the containers looking the way they would on a ship during their sea journey.  With that in mind the containers that were purchased from the Port of Long Beach were specifically chosen to be of certain color and from the same shipping company.

Containers on Grand - Under Construction

The project is scheduled to be completed by early summer and the units already have a wait list for tenants. We hope to stop by the property one more time before construction is completed and take some additional work-in-progress photos.

Project Specs

  • Type of Project: Apartments
  • Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • Total number of containers: 16
  • Size of Containers: 40 ft High Cube
  • Number of Units: 8
  • Sq Feet of Each Unit: 740



Would you still be interested in living in a recycled shipping container even if it didn’t look like a container on the exterior?


Louisville Brandy Distillery Integrates Shipping Containers

Copyright @ Copper & Kings
Copyright @ Copper & Kings

Located in Butchertown, Louisville, Kentucky, Copper & Kings Distillery – a brandy distillery, is a creative masterpiece needing some solid recognition. In the words of C&K, they produce a “differentiated, uncommon, unadulterated pure pot-distilled natural American brandy.” Sounds sexy, doesn’t it? Although we are absolutely in love with who the brand is, it wasn’t the company that initially drew our intention. No, it was their use of shipping containers, of course!

Copyright @ Copper & Kings
Copyright @ Copper & Kings

We first came across Copper & Kings by chance while surfing Instagram and were immediately attracted to their sleek simply designed orange and black containers. It was when we contacted them that we learned they are so much more than a well-designed exterior. C&K believe strongly in the importance of doing their part to be environmentally conscious. Existing on the property is an established solar array which supports a portion of their power needs. They also planted a garden to serve as a formal Monarch Butterfly Way Station, we elaborate more on this at the end of this article.

owner quote 1

Copyright @ Copper & Kings
Copyright @ Copper & Kings

In trying to add to their existing distillery home in Butchertown, a unique mixed-use neighborhood that offers a creative community vibe, it was important to them to find something that went beyond the typical building. This additional space would be used to host guests for tours and events as well as offer a retail store, waiting room, bathroom and catering amenities.

Copyright @ Copper & Kings
Copyright @ Copper & Kings

Combining their location and their fundamental philosophy of sustainability it seemed that using shipping containers just made sense.

“We were transfixed with some of the amazingly creative uses for repurposed shipping containers that we found on the web and in design magazines. Creativity that redefined the formal linear, box shapes and became not only distinctive and unique, but amazingly versatile and various in look, feel, tone. From Puma and Aether on the fashion side, to the Container Bar in Austin to the Mill Junction student housing in Johannesburg. Affordable housing to a super high end home in the Mojave Desert.” – Joe Heron

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For more info on Copper & Kings click here.


Facts on the Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterflies are a species of butterfly that perform annual migrations across the entire continent of North American. The eastern population travels both North and South between southern Canada and central Mexico. Not all Monarchs migrate and the migrating population co-exist among the non-migrators. The eastern population will travel up to 4,830 miles during their journey from Canada to Mexico making them one the longest migrators among the insect population.

Proposed ‘Econtainer Bridge’ in Tel Aviv

Photo © Yoav Messer Architects
Photo © Yoav Messer Architects

Earlier this year, Yoav Messer Architects, was awarded the winning proposal for their Econtainer Bridge which will connect Lod Road to the Arial Sharon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel.  The proposal is to create a 525 foot bridge from recycled shipping containers which can be used by bicyclists, pedestrians, and public shuttles which will get people from their cars to the park itself.

Arial Sharon Park, also known as, Hiriya Mountain was used for many decades as a massive landfill which at one point had more than 25 million tons of waste.  It is said that the conditions of this landfill had gotten so extreme that you could smell it from miles away, lending it properly to the name given by the locals, “sh*t mountain.”

Photo © Yoav Messer Architects
Photo © Yoav Messer Architects

The Israeli government officially closed the landfill in 1998 and has now committed itself into converting it into a national monument known as the Ariel Sharon Park. Slowly they have built lasting infrastructure that shows great promise for the project.  One piece still remains that is reminiscent of the original use of the park, but in much better form.  This is the Arrow Bio recycling center which takes roughly 3,000 tons of household waste per day and finds a way to reuse or recycle a whopping 80 percent of it.

Photo © Yoav Messer Architects
Photo © Yoav Messer Architects

With this great transformation taking form it seems quite fitting that Yoav Messer Architects were the winners with their Econtainer Bridge proposal.  It is reported that there are more than 800,000 containers decommissioned by the maritime transport each year.  These containers would be re-purposed and used for this proposed project.  The bridge design would allow for the use of only four columns, reducing the total impact on the ground below.  Along the bridge there will be openings with balconies for viewing on both sides of the pathway.

This project is a wonderfully thought out combination of design and sustainability.


Photo © Yoav Messer Architects
Photo © Yoav Messer Architects


For more architectural details, click here.

For more details on the information of Hiriya Mountain, click here.


Shipping Container Micro Farm

urbanfarmunit01Developed by Damien Chivialle this micro farm, also known as an Urban Farm Unit (UFU), makes growing local produce possible in largely urban areas.  Urban Farm Units such as these seek to bring urban dwellers the opportunity to grow and cultivate organic produce with minimal interference.  This module, a shipping container with an over head greenhouse space, can be dismantled and relocated to any other location that will allow it.  Built to be a shared farm, each of these units are meant to supply local residents with needed organic supplies as well as improve the quality of available goods to the entire community.urbanfarmunit02The creation of these UFU’s has been made possible through increased growth technologies like aquaponics, which combines aquaculture and hydroponics in a symbiotic environment to enable food production.  The design of these specific shipping container units comes with all the technology in place, this includes the hydroponics, greenhouse, scaffolding, and of course the open top container.  The intention was to make this a scalable and evolutive design.

So, it uses aquaponics which creates a symbiotic relationship… What does that really mean? These micro farm containers use a closed circuit water system meaning the fish’s waste is moved to a sewage tank where it is broken down into u     sable minerals, which are then used as fertilizers for the plants, the plants filter the water which returns back to the fish.  Methane gas is recovered in the sewage tanks following the other processes, this methane is used to power a alternate generator that provides energy for the entire system.  Quite an impressive system for such a small unit!


A total of four farms have been built since 2010 in Berlin, Zurich, Brussels and most recently in Levuen, Belgium.

urbanfarmunit04urbanfarmunit05Urban Farm Unit 1



Couple moves from US to Panama and builds container home

Container home  - panama 3 Two expats from the United States, Fred and Cynthia, moved to Panama in hopes of building a life abroad.  The couple decided a shipping container home would be a good way to make a home and so the DIY project began.

Container home  - panama 2Fred and Cynthia, former residents of Colorado, met online.  In one of their early email conversations Cynthia asked Fred if he would be interested in living outside of the US, Fred had responded that he would be open to the idea.  This opened the door for further conversation of  the topic.  After researching a number of different countries including Costa Rica, Mexico, and Beliz, a friend of Cynthia’s had suggested Panama. So off went Fred on a 10-day scouting trip. During this time Panama was in it’s early stages of attracting foreign investors into the area, and were offering a number of incentive packages.  Coupled with the weather, the available incentive packages made the decision an easy one. Panama it was!

Container home  - panama 1The couples home uses four 40′ high containers that were purchased for $4,000 each at the Port of Colon.  Fred a carpenter most of his working career, found the learning curve to be a bit steeper than expected but none the less finds the work to be very rewarding.  Four years after deciding to “just start” they are nearing completion and should be finished sometime in 2015.  You must admit that Fred and Cynthia’s ‘just go and do it’ attitude is quite inspiring.  With no initial budget or time frame in mind the process has had its obstacles but the pair have found ways to move past them and enjoy their time in the beautiful mountain area in which they are located.

Fred and Cynthia decided to incorporate open space between their containers to add a unique design element which has caused the construction process to take longer then if you were to build the containers side by side.  Insulation was not a major concern for the couple because of the homes geography, however, Fred noted that this is probably the most important component to get right on the home and may require very specific engineering that is designed for the unique shape and features of the containers.

If you are interested in learning more about Fred and Cynthia’s unique story of moving from the United States to Panama to build their very own container home, visit their blog here.

Above all else, Fred’s advice to those wanting to build their own container project is this:

“Just do something. Invent something. Even if it is wrong and costs you a lot of money, just do something.  All we are is the sum of our experiences. Have fun out there.”

Thanks Fred & Cynthia!! We wish you the best of luck on your home.

Panorama -- Back Garden --020

Caterpillar House: Shipping Containers Meet Modern Design

Built for an art collector, the Caterpillar House, is of exceptional function and design. This home, built by architect, Sebastián Irarrázaval, is located in Santiago, Chile. Completed in 2012 the Caterpillar House achieves the two desired purposes; 1) integration into the local territory where the Andes Mountains have a distinguished presence and 2) avoid mechanical cooling by allowing outside air to run effortlessly through the entire home.

If you are interested in learning more about the design of this home or would like to floor plans, please comment below.

















A boost in a box: the Cargo Cafe

The cargo cafe: combining inventive container architecture with the worlds favorite consumable commodity. For decades it seems we have always associated the corner coffee shop as a safe zone for the eccentric individual but also a friendly place for the conventional professional.  Somehow coffee has kept people from all walks of life connected for many generations.  For most of us in the United States we’ve found it difficult to stray from Starbucks, the mega chain that never lets us down, despite our burning desire to want to support our local business owners.   With its convenience and a plethora of delicious modifiable menu items Starbucks has continued to dominate the coffee market.  This has left the independent coffee shop owner to their own creative devices.  Luckily we have all been waiting for something interesting enough to lure us from the comfort zone of those unmistakable green umbrellas.

It’s apparent that the cargo cafe is here and it’s a hit.  Here are a few cafe’s, both popup and permanent, around the world that are making a splash.


This Illy push button cafe designed by Adam Kalkin was used in 2007 for the Venice Biennale.  The Venice Biennale is major contemporary are exhibit that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy.  This coffee shop was temporary but functional, appearing as an unimproved container at first but opening up at the push of button into five functional spaces.


The Coffee Farm, a popup coffee shop, was used during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival in Australia in early 2013.  This cafe consists 120 plants and was constructed using recycled shipping containers and wooden palettes.


The Crafted Coffee Company was approached by the builders of an awesome project called the re:Start Container Mall, who were interested in having a cafe  within there constructed space.  The cafe opened in 2009 in the container mall which is located in Christchurch, New Zealand.

hummingbird hummingbird-coffee

Established in October of 2011 the Hummingbird Coffee shop, also located in the re:Start shipping container center, was converted in just eight weeks.  Both Hummingbird and Crafted Coffee are open at re:Start


The Yogu Coffee shop can be found Banilad, Cebu, Philippines hiding between a fuel station and condominium development.

Chaiwalla11-002 DSC06230

The Chaiwalla & Co. is Malaysia’s first container cafe.  This  cute spot opened late 2013 and has been a popular destination for tourist in the nearby area.


The Grande Caffe opened May 2013 in Northgate, Australia.  Located in an industrial area, they constructed the shop to match the surrounding area.

From the docks to your doorstep. The latest shipping container projects, worldwide.