Men of Vision: Luis de Garrido

20 Apr

I told you a while back that I was gonna start exposing you to the guys who are moving ISBU technology forward.

paul-stankeyWe started off with Paul Stankey, who built a cabin in the woods, to replace a dilapidated trailer that had long since seen it’s time.

Paul’s Holyoke Cabin is just the tip of the iceberg, where ISBU’s are concerned. Using (2) ISBU’s, he built a cabin that will stand the test of time, and exhibit (for anyone crazy enough to hop his fences to take a closer look) a sustainable, reliable, efficient structure that is certain to spawn lots of family stories and pride, for many, many years!

This time, we’re gonna talk about Luis de Garrido, an architect whose projects inspire awe and imagination, whimsy and wonder…

Professor Garrido travels the world teaching his sustainable building concepts and bio-climatic, zero energy concepts at colleges, universities and Sustainable Building conferences.

luis-de-garridoLuis de Garrido has earned many, many accolades, and a lot of respect from his peers, internationally, Most recently, the “ISBU Association” has chosen prominent architect, designer and educator Luis de Garrido, PhD. for his sustainable Bio-climatic architecture, educational symposiums and the innovative use of ISBU shipping container modules in his award winning architectural designs.

In my opinion, it’s an award that is long overdue.

Professor Garrido was only one of several nominees for the “2008 Architect of The Year Award.”

Many other architects and firms were considered;

Here’s the “short list;”

We’ve talked about Adam Kalkin, Lotek, and one of my personal favorites, Peter De Maria, here on the pages of  “RR” as well.


The ISBU Association advisory board spent months evaluating the nominees since August 2008, based on their work;  their accomplishments, their use of ISBU modules in architecture, and their overall use of sustainable concepts, materials and original thinking.


Professor Garrido quickly became a front runner in the selection process, not only for his use of recycled ISBU shipping containers but also his visionary Bio-climatic concepts, designs and sustainable educational curriculum which is becoming widely accepted globally.


Luis de Garrido is a prime example of what the ISBU enthusiasts and builders have hoped for; Professor Garrido is much more than a sustainable architect, he’s a true innovator of usable concepts and teaching concepts.


You can expect that his successful example with sustainable architecture, Bio-climatic design and affiliation with our organization will serve to inspire and stimulate the use of ISBU shipping containers and help promote the interest in quickly emerging ISBU technologies.


Without exaggeration, Luis de Garrido nearly stands alone in his qualifications for the 2008 Architect of the Year Award.  His reputation and body of work speak for themselves, in many languages! He has numerous achievements, awards and appointments in Spain, Europe, and Latin America and in the U.S. has also won two awards from UCLA. Presently he is director of the ANAVIF Organization in Spain and also visiting Professor at MIT where he has taught since 2002.

Among other things, he is presently building the first “bio-climatic” commercial building in Panama City, Panama. It is 55 levels of natural refrigeration; the first of it’s kind in the world. The Bio-climatic concept can easily be constructed using ISBU modules rather than conventional building materials.

The standard strength of an ISBU module makes it ideal for use either horizontally or vertically as seen in the photos. For most architects an ISBU is alluring for the creating of “green roofs”, solar heating and solar panels.

Below is the famous R4 Bio-house which made it’s debut in May of 2007 at Construmat, the world’s largest building Expo. It was featured in the new Sustainable Construction Pavilion at Construmat and gained international attention by architects globally.

The R4 Bio-house is a mainframe of 6 recycled ISBU modules (shipping containers) and is 100% sustainable.

All residential housing and commercial building designs by Luis de Garrido include his trademark Bio-climatic architecture and air movement details.

Bio-climatic concept: Summer cooling with nature's energy

Bio-climatic concept: Winter heating with nature's energy.

Six ISBU (shipping containers) provide the base structure of the fully sustainable
home and "green roofs.

This R4 Bio House is only one of many residential and commercial designs using his Bio-climatic technology.

The same bio concept is being used with his new I-Sleep Hotel design created for the Zaragoza Best Western group which began construction this Fall in Spain.

Professor Garrido teaches his Bio-climatic concept to architects, designers and builders globally. He is also a visiting Professor at the famed MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Boston since 2004.

And you can bet that MIT is damned glad to have him! Can you imagine the passion and inspiration he instills in those young minds?

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance RoninAnd please remember that we’re trying desperately to save this blog. As my wife’s illness worsens, the budget gets tighter and tighter. If you like what you read, and it helps you find your path, please consider hitting the Paypal button, and donatining a few bucks to the cause, okay? We really want to keep this blog going!

6 Responses to “Men of Vision: Luis de Garrido”

  1. Kristin April 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm #


    I am looking for information on attaching siding to a container and also fitting windows. Like everyone else the local building and planning department is being difficult to deal with.

    I have a little experiance with oxy/fuel cutting and a set of tanks. I also have nighmareish recolection of trying to drill mounting holes in a CSX boxcar years back. That steel was so tough it was tearing up cobalt drill bits for each hole, wonder if ISO containers are made of the same stuff.

    So appreciate any links to sites where attaching sideing or mounting windows or doors might be found.


    • renaissanceronin April 23, 2009 at 6:24 am #

      Hi Kristin,

      I understand your angst, intimately. The Nazis at Planning and Zoning can be a real pain in the “you-know-where.”

      For siding, just fir out your containers. This can be accomplished several ways, but you’re just adding a “nail strip” to your Corten Castle, to allow the Hardieplank to be attached. It’s really quite simple.

      If the dimensional lumber you use is large enough, say 2×4 or 2×6, it gives you a cavity for rigid insulation. Insulation is much better on the OUTSIDE of your box. That way, your interior doesn’t get any smaller.

      Windows are trickier, but it’s not terribly difficult. I think I can help you out. Watch your email.


    • Luano James July 14, 2009 at 1:08 pm #

      Hi Kristen, I’m just starting out on my own ISBU home in Los Angeles California, and I initially ordered my ISBU for storage even though I had the factory install a door, window and two turbines, I now am seriously considering a home. While I was at the factory watching them perform modifications for cutting they used a plasma cutter to buy $2000+ Rent? Also window and door openings can be cut and a steel tube framing is welded in a square first to fit the window then measure your area then cut out the proper size, I know nothing of the building codes so get approval first, I will try some used windows and size them to my ISBU. Check Bob Villa you tube container house.
      In the mean time I’m looking for an architect/engineer that can provide approve quality plans and any contractors would be of great help. Thanks, reach me at

  2. bob December 11, 2009 at 2:24 am #

    Here is some new info on the popularity of container projects…an award winner from DeMaria –

  3. Dr. PJ June 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Can you recommend any resources (contacts, names, websites, etc) for using ISBU crates for building in tropical locations?

    • renaissanceronin June 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

      Hey Doc,

      As I’ve stated several times in the blog, I’ve built ISBU homes in the Caribbean, and in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

      This blog started as a “documentary or recovery” and turned into a “lightning rod” for all things ISBU. During that time we’ve set many people on the ISBU path, and the hopes is that we’ll help families do exactly what you’ve described in your comments.

      I’ve dedicated the last two years to this blog, trying to promote an “alternative mindset” where affordable housing is concerned. We’ll continue as long as we can, however anyone reading the blog knows that I’ve asked readers to assist where they can, and the results are less than promising, to date. We’ll see what happens in the future.

      Our hope is that many will find shelter in these troubled times, in repurposed, sustainable steel boxes.

      Thanks for your comments.


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