The Tin Shack

by Media Xpose

The Container St Helena house, aka The Tin Shack (, was built near the beach at St Helena Bay using two 12m containers. Conceived as an Airbnb unit, it consists of two shipping containers split into two-bedroom wings, with ensuites and custom built-in cupboards.

Written By Ayla Damon, Images By Brigette Rademeyer

Despite the narrowness of the container structure, the two-bedroom spaces do not feel cramped. The large open-plan living area has an ample-sized kitchen with a dining and lounge area to allow the occupants to enjoy the fireplace in winter and the coastal views in summer. The large sliding doors lead onto the sheltered decked area with a KolKol hot tub which balances on the edge of the deck.

The property is located on an elevated section of St Helena Bay, so it was important that the views were unobstructed, and that the unit was located in a private enough space on the property to allow the guest to enjoy the local vegetation, wildlife, and birdlife.

The tranquil and calming interiors consist of a combination of white and grey tones to not detract from the outside landscape. The container theme was carried through to the interiors as the bathrooms are kitted out with industrial brass fixtures and sanitaryware, a vertically clad metal wall was added in the shower and as a splashback to the basin.

The architect’s design had to take cognisance of bushfires so the area around the container footprint was cleared and built up with terraforce retaining blocks to create a house platform. This was then filled with a pebbled path and apron to create a surround. The containers were built using non-combustible materials with a suitable fire rating. The design is very simple and straightforward as the build was done by the owners, who executed it superbly.

Sustainability factors

An important factor, sustainable principles, and materials were incorporated as follows:

  • The quick building time meant fewer resources such as water were required for construction.
  • Double glazing was installed to prevent too much heat gain and glare.
  • Energy-efficient light bulbs were used
  • Permeable paving with waterwise landscaping was used.
  • Greywater and rainwater collection was installed.
  • Recycling building materials as well as the containers themselves were given a new life.
  • Portions of the container sidewalls that were cut out to join the two containers were reused as walls on either end of the patio.
  • Minimal materials were used meaning a low carbon footprint.
  • A monopitch roof was installed to collect as much rainwater as possible to be reused.
  • The gas geyser, stove, and fireplace installed make the structure less reliant on electrical supply.
  • Composting toilets were installed.
  • A solar panel system is envisaged for the near future.
Structure and finishes
The containers are supported by concrete pad footings with a concrete plinth wall, this was filled in loosely with rocks found on the property. The container points are fixed to the concrete plinth wall with base plates all designed by the engineering team.
The architects were fortunate that in this area the containers could remain exposed. They were painted in a grey tone finish that the clients chose, which helps blend the containers in with their surroundings. Because the containers were left in their natural state, it avoided transporting any unnecessary cladding materials, and a minimal amount of timber was used, creating less of a carbon footprint for the build.
The deck was semi-enclosed using offcuts from the container walls, which makes building with recycled containers even more eco-friendly. The roof structure was built on top of the container rooftop, which not only serves to collect rainwater, but shades glazed areas and protects the containers from the elements. uPVC double glazed windows are use throughout. The interior of the containers was framed with light steel and then clad with Rhinoboard from Gyproc. A foil-faced insulation barrier (Sisalation) was also added to the walls and roofing along with rock wool insulation. The ceilings are Isoboard, which also serves as insulation.
Professional Team
Contractor: Owner-Builder
Architect: Ayla Damon, Poche Architectural Concepts
Engineer: Len Nyenes, Nyenes Property Design

You may also like

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!