Twenty-one shipping containers are transformed into a home in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., designed by Alexis Kraft ’83. The rendering (below, right) shows how the materials were stretched for maximum efficiency: The brown corners that were cut away from the second floor become the basis
rules have changed, in terms of what people want and need and what you’re allowed to build in New York City,” he says. These homes are expected to perform like any modern structure, with regard to comfort and efficiency. The task for the architect is to craft those transformations, “so you don’t feel like you’re rattling around inside,” Kraft says, but without going too far. “It still has to feel somewhat like a shipping container house.” Beyond walking that line, perhaps the most significant challenge for the architect is both how to make a container home interesting, “when we’ve more or less trended past it,” and how to manage public perceptions, which are sometimes still lagging. Kraft is in the midst of building a shippingcontainer home for a client in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, and the project pops up with some frequency on Curbed, a popular blog that keeps tabs on real estate. Judging by the posts, “People are obviously confused about what this thing is,” says Kraft. “And it’s tricky to work in an environment like that.” He cites the example of a friend, an architect in charge of a large-scale addition to a Kansas City art museum that courted controversy: The architect would drive himself crazy visiting public forums, trying to explain the project in terms people would accept. But people were calling for the building to be torn down. Then, on opening day, thousands of people showed up, Kraft says, “and they all celebrated it.” It’s all part of the process, Kraft says, when a project pushes the public outside their comfort 35
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Images courtesy LOT-EK/Kraft Studio
of the third floor, for example.