Would you like a Corten Cathedral?

7 Dec

As you can probably imagine, we get questions about Shipping containers and “tasking”.

“Can I bury one?” they ask.


“Are you sure?” they plead.

“DO I need to beat you? I said NO.”

“Can I stack them up in a tree?” they wonder.

“Yes, but it better be one helluva tree.”

(We’ve built “treehouses” out of containers. It’s the very definition of “Corten Coolness”. It usually takes more than ONE stout tree.) 🙂

“Can I really insulate ISBUs using special paint?” they ask. “I’ve seen it on the Internet so it must be true, right?”

“Have you read my page on Ceramic coatings? Please email me again when you have  located your brain…” is my usual response. Actually, that’s not true. I deleted the extra words because this blog  is a family show. 😉

They send photos. You know, “Can I do this or that?” kinda photos.

After a reader sent me some photos of some metal roofing material “turned sideways”, I followed the links and saw these little steel cabins on the web.

They’re produced by a company called (what  else?) “Arched Cabins” out of Texas.

They wanted to know it this “style” of cabin construction could be incorporated into small ISBU cabins. They loved the way that it looked.

What's not to like?

What’s not to like?

Well, I love the way they look too.  Essentially, it’s just an insulated metal shed. But it made me think about HOW we build our cabins out of 20′ Shipping containers.

What if you built out your boxes and them towed them to a site where you’d then erect this arched “roof” over them?

3It’s really nothing more than a stylized metal A-Frame.  We’ve actually built A-Framed ISBU cabins and homes in the past. We insulated the roof shell instead of the boxes, using the roof to envelope the ISBU  cabin structure.

Can you mount containers on pilings supporting a deck?

Absolutely, if you use good design practices and good materials.

A “hybrid” home combining ISBUs and this arched roofing frame built in a manner similar to this would still sit up on pilings off grade, so it would shed well. If you built a “roof” like this that went almost all the way to grade, you could really have some fun with your ISBU cabin. Incorporating windows would be fun and fairly straight forward. They’d look terrific inset into that framing.  You could easily encompass any crawlspace height you desired as long as you provided a “landing place” for your roof framing.  That means you’d still have semi-protected storage areas under your cabin.

Is there anything about it I don’t like?

Okay, in the “high country” I might think about turning the orientation of the ribs of the metal siding to vertical so that they ran up and down instead of horizontally. That way water and more importantly snow would shed easier.  I wouldn’t want ice loading up and holding on all those horizontal rib surfaces. It would also allow for some really cool water retention surfaces.

Extend your arched roof out beyond the boxes and you get a really nice, sheltered and sturdy covered porch.

This is an intriguing idea and it’d go up pretty fast. If you built your boxes remotely and then trailered them to the site, you could erect this roof over them in a few days, with just a few friends helping out.

I also like the idea that if you put some thought into it, you could reclaim the created cavities for storage and even mech space.

Reclaimed Space

The yellow outlined areas could easily be reclaimed for use by the homeowner. I’d put a loft at either end, open up the middle creating a modernistic “vaulted ceiling” (complete with chase and track lighting or ceiling fans) and then use the areas on each side for storage. I’d even use it for protected structural storage of gear and perhaps a canoe or kayak.

You could easily get almost 500 square feet out of this design, if you thought it through.

Stay tuned.

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One Response to “Would you like a Corten Cathedral?”

  1. Rachel December 7, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Ohhhhhh I LOVE IT!!!

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