Container Studio / Maziar Behrooz Architecture

© Courtesy of

Architects: Maziar Behrooz Architecture
Location: Amagansett, NY,
Project Area: 840 sq ft
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Dalton Portella & Francine Fleischer

© Courtesy of Maziar Behrooz Architecture

The client needed an art studio close to her house (which we renovated in 2008). Her requirements were for a space of about 700 sf and a stringent budget of $60,000; and for a simple structure that would be both inviting and reflective.

© Courtesy of Maziar Behrooz Architecture

Our solution was to use two 9’-6” x 40’ x 8’ shipping containers (cost: $2,500 each, delivered) perched over a 9’ foundation wall/cellar. By cutting 75% of the floor of the containers, we were able to move the painting studio to a lower level via a wide staircase and take advantage of a high ceiling. The staircase itself acts as a transitional space for viewing art work.

© Courtesy of Maziar Behrooz Architecture

The upper floor provides a more intimate work area and a sitting area.

The containers were painted dark charcoal to maintain continuity with the original house and to recede in the shadows of a dense wooded site.

Cite: "Container Studio / Maziar Behrooz Architecture" 19 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Finally! Pre-Fab and similar minded approaches are beginning to uphold their promise.
    Super cost effective and beautiful design solution.
    Nice work!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      im not criticizing im just curious, is this really cost effective? could one not frame out the upper portion in a traditional manner for $5000, the cost of the 2 shipping containers? even after the containers are placed there is a tremendous amount of work to insulate and finish not to mention if it were framed the tolerances would be more exact than a couple of banged up containers. i have no experience with containers so i am just curious about their true cost effectiveness.

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        We priced the same space using standard stick construction. The estimates were substantially more; in one case double.

        The containers give you a finished, water resistant solution with little flashing requirements. No roofing, no siding, no framing/sheathing, no code-required tying down of every stud from roof joists down to foundation wall, etc. meant a substantial savings in cost.

        Insulating and finishing the containers was not a lot of work as you suggest in your comment.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        Thanks Maziar for the response. Good point about the “water resistant” solution. also i did not realize the cost between the two was so substantial, good to know. very nice project, the space feels very generous!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    for sure using revit was a cost-effective choice. one can tell it´s revit because of the “look” of the plans. am i wrong?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Doesnt the lack of roofing cause a concern? These container tops are steel, and flat (I assume). Not sheding water off the roof. I would think for a long term solution, a membrane roof would be executed? But you guys left it alone? Why?

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      Not sure what’s your concern, you do realize these are shipping containers.

      They’re built to be exposed to the elements, they spend 90% of their time around oceans (salt water), and they can experience on a daily basis changes in climate from frozen artic to desert heat, to rainy huracans, all of this while protecting their inside cargo.

      So, how exactly is the lack of roofing a concern?

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        ISO containers are remarkably strong as you say however their legendary status maybe just a little bit ahead of their real world capabilities.

        One of the weaknesses of corten steel ( of which shipping containers are made ) is that when you paint it it is no more corrosion-resistant than conventional steel.

        This is because the protective patina will not form in time to prevent corrosion over a localized area of attack such as a small paint failure such as from a standing pool of water.

        The second often quoted myth is their legendary strength ( and not something you address here ) in reality the moment you start modifying them eg cutting out the sides of the container then the very design which provides them with that strength is lost, eg remove both ends of a container and they have lost most of their lateral strength.

        Not anti container in any way, love them however there are a lot of misconceptions about what you can and cant do with ISBU’s.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Lovely finished studio

    Can you please comment on the partially buried container ? How are you managing corrosion long term and did you do any engineering calculations re the forces on side walls of the container ? ie safety wise.

    The accept engineering consensus is that you should not bury containers like this your comments and feedback much appreciated.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      But the burried part is concrete! Look for the pictures of the construction process.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Duh !

        God I hate that, thankyou for pointing that out to me !

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    LWS -The container roof is corrugated steel. The bottom of the corrugated panel is flush with the top of the beam that supports it. So water will simply drain off the side of the roof (this would happen even if the roof is not sloped as water will simply flush itself out).

    SULLKA is right that the boxes are made to endure abusive weather conditions. As long as the paint on them is maintained, they will resist rust and be OK.

    As CONTAINER HOME FAN suggests, containers have to be manipulated carefully. If too much steel is removed, the structure will not hold up properly. Nevertheless, a 40 footer can carry a payload of about 60,000lbs which is far beyond the requirements in residential or light commercial use.

    Thanks for all the comments.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Studies suggest from shipping containers that have not been preserved by building materials on the interior and exterior but rather exposed to extreme temperature of the ocean, to last 50 years or more before they are de-commissioned. With cladding on the interior and exterior, to protect from rust, studies suggest that a container home should last, at minimum to 90 years.

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