a container as a living space

spatial design
interior and exterior, residental

How does the modularity of shipping container units allow for adaptation to different living situations and needs?

How to maximize natural light in the living space throughout the day?

How can the modularity of the interior space be maximized through thoughtful distribution, placement, and function of the subspaces and furniture?

Shipping containers are becoming increasingly popular as alternative housing solutions due to their modularity, durability, and eco-friendliness. They offer an affordable and sustainable way of creating unique living spaces with a small environmental footprint while being able to adapt to various climates and locations, providing a versatile housing solution for different populations and regions.
That’s why, in the sunflower project, shipping containers were used to create a living space experimentally adapted to my personal needs regarding the use of personal space.

By using containers as modules and thoughtful placement of subspaces and furniture, the space was optimized to meet different living situations and needs.

exterior view

The distribution of space

In considering a space that would suit my needs, I find it important to think about the separation of space based on the type and activities that take place within it. Therefore, I envisioned the structure of the containers to consist of three separate spaces, with one consisting of 2 modules and the other two consisting of 1 module. Their function determines their positioning, with the active central space located on the lower and largest level where all daily activities take place, such as a study room, living room, and kitchen. The next space, located on the first floor, serves as a transitional space from the active to the resting/sleeping area and replaces the "more isolated" living room. The final space, located on the highest floor, is an isolated rest area consisting of a bedroom and bathroom.

By separating the space into these three distinct areas, I aim to create a more functional living space that provides privacy and promotes productivity, while still allowing for interaction and communal activities in the central space. 

a schematic layout of the distribution of space

Collecting the daylight

The next parameter that was a priority was the design of the space to receive the maximum amount of sunlight during the day. I imagined this in a somewhat speculative way after the concept of the Heliotrope: The Rotating House, an environmentally friendly housing project by architect Rolf Disch. The first and largest floor (ground floor) is designed to be entirely enclosed by glass walls to allow maximum sunlight to enter. The other two floors are connecte by spiral staircases around a central

axis (pillar), and the two containers can rotate around it. The first floor, intended for peaceful daytime activities, is designed to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day, directly facing the direction of the sun, creating an atmosphere where only the shorter glass wall allows light in, while the others are solid. The second floor, intended for sleeping, can be rotated at an angle to avoid direct sunlight, enabling undisturbed sleep.

side view 1
side view 2



The interior design concept was focused on maximizing the modularity of space usage, allowing the user to utilize it in whichever way they desire. The ground floor was designed to be entirely open, except for the bathroom, which is located in one part of the central space to ensure circular movement. The kitchen table is the central piece of the 
space and can rotate around a 

specific axis, much like containers, thereby dictating various ways to use the space. Seating is also entirely arbitrary, with the space containing seating elements that do not have a designated position. The first floor also consists of an open space with access to a terrace, where the entire space is filled with furniture that can be used arbitrarily throughout the area.

the visualization of floor 0

the visualization of floor 1

The entire structure as a module

Since all parts of the concept are based on modularity and different ways of usage, it was logical to consider how the entire structure would function as a module. Therefore, I envisioned how two modules could be connected into one unit and what the relationship is between multiple such units.

2nd semester of Graduate Studies
Faculty of Architecture, School of Design
The University of Zagreb

mentors: Primož Jeza and Robert Šimetin