In every town and city, whether large or small, you’ll always find small, awkward shaped plots of land that sit between larger development sites. These ‘infill’ plots have generally been considered unusable. The aim of Contain Yourself was to tackle this unavoidable issue with a cost effective, design led approach, whilst also trying to create an ideal home for people just stepping onto the property ladder.


The size and structure of the house is based on that of a single shipping container, which is literally turned on its head to create a compact five storey property, needing just 2.6m squared of land to be placed.  Designed by the Heterarchy Studio, this innovative house design will be exhibited at the NRW in Dusseldorf, Germany from June until September this year.  The house is one of 24 designs chosen to be exhibited out of over 200 entrants to this open International design competition set by the NRW late last year. Entrants were called to submit a maximum of two 30x30cm boards and a ‘Tweet’ (140 characters) explaining the design. Each of the 24 submissions will be showcased with a 1:5 scale model.


The 2.6m x 12.2m container is sunk into an insulated concrete pit in the ground, creating two floors below ground, leaving 8m above ground level for a further 3 levels.  To create usable interior spaces, the skin of the container is punctured to allow for angled, cubic projections to cantilever from the structure. Within the interior the house is a central staircase that leads to a room on each floor, with a bedroom and bathroom below ground level and entrance space, kitchen and living room on the floors above.

An external cladding of solar responsive glass panels over a super insulated multi foil layer is used, making the building thermally efficient and therefore cost effective.

In a time when getting onto the property ladder is harder than ever, these compact homes provide a solution for first time buyers.  They tackle the issue of wasted land and the growing demand for affordable housing whilst staying design conscious, cost effective and energy efficient.

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