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An Off-the-Grid Shipping Container Cabin

Photos courtesy of Tomecek Studio Architecture

Located 40 minutes outside of Cañon City, Colorado, and anchored into a natural earthen berm, this 1,280-square-foot home is a sight to be seen.

The remote retreat sits on 35 acres of agrarian land where the owners have been hunting and vacationing for the last three decades. Eager to create their own off-the-grid getaway in this Southern Colorado netherworld, they contacted a gutsy architect who had previous experience building shipping container homes.

Brad Tomecek, AIA, partner with Boulder-based Studio H:T at the time (and who now is the founding architect of Tomecek Studio Architecture) climbed on board as the design and project architect of the home.

“They wanted a vacation spot they could visit three times a year—but one that also could be left to endure the resilient north-westerly winds that frequent the area,” says Tomecek. “They already had shipping containers in mind, because they’re industrial and durable.”

After doing multiple site visits and getting to know the family, Tomecek crafted a design that—despite the agrarian-industrial dichotomy—blends into its surroundings. He focused on maximizing views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, shielding outdoor spaces from the persistent wind, and providing durable, sustainable living to the occupants—all while maintaining the integrity of the raw materials.

Main floor plan

Upper floor plan

The one-of-a-kind cabin consists of four 40-foot shipping containers, three of which were cut in half, to build two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a protected outdoor courtyard space. Ten feet from the house sits a ground-mount solar panel system.

“We lifted the two center containers to make the master suite,” Tomecek says, “which also provides cover for entry from the approach side.” The guest suite is entirely isolated, with access through the courtyard, “so it becomes almost like a one-bedroom unit with separate guest quarters.” 

And, taking a slight reprieve from the focus on durability to honor its site, the back of the home is lined with glass—providing uninterrupted views of the land the owners fell in love with decades prior.

Stairs with conduit

Shipping container floor detail

“What really makes this home special is how the integrity of the shipping containers was maintained,” Tomecek says. “The undeniable character of the containers, the exposed metal, their markings, the stories they tell, down to the residue of the contents they once shipped—it expresses the containers in a very truthful way.”SaveSave

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