Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mod Minn(ies) : Cargo Cabin

One reason I find cabins so exciting is the freedom they inspire in the creative mind. Unlike typical homes they aren’t expected to function to the standards of our everyday demands. In fact, a few little twists and anomalies can be welcome distractions to remind us that we need to slow down and enjoy life. To the modernist architect this can provide the inspiration and freedom to invent and break away from normal conventions. Just this spirit inspired Hive Modular’s Paul Stankey to design an affordable modern cabin for his family when their 1940’s camper on his family’s land in Holyoke, MN, no longer kept out the rodents or the rain.

Paul, his wife (who is also an architect), and his brother set out to find a solution that would give both families a comfortable retreat but was as simple and cost effective as possible. Their criteria were to sleep two couples, provide basic heat and be durable for years to come… i.e. no more mice!

Paul happened upon the solution near his home in Northeast Minneapolis: two twenty-foot used shipping containers that he purchased for only $800. The shipping containers where positioned nine feet apart on sonotube footings. A shed roof was framed above them, creating a living room space between. The tops of the shipping containers become sleeping lofts and the whole space is heated (when necessary) with a metal wood-stove placed in the red shipping container.

The interiors are intimate but feel expansive due to the careful use of steel frames and large panes of commercial glass. The walls are lined with birch plywood that plays against the rustic steel corrugation of the boxes, which literally passes from the inside to the outside. Currently the cabin uses a 12-volt lighting system with a gas light back up, and the electricity is replenished with a small PV array. The rain water collected from the roof runs into a cistern that supplies a gray-water plumbing system.

The overall effect is a rustic but fun modern cabin that would make any nature-loving urbanite envious. The project definitely meets Paul’s goals of creating a “balance of old and new, rustic and industrial, cold metal and warm wood.” Although this isn’t necessarily the cabin for the log cabin-loving Minnesotan, it definitely deserves some recognition. Despite a tiny budget a truly fun and inventive cabin was achieved with a basic and challenging palette of materials. It is absolutely a great Mod Minn(ie).

Keep the cabins coming! We’ll continue to feature great modern cabins through the summer. Please post your examples to be considered for the next installment of Mod Minn(ies).

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