Homes

Uncontained

Their home may be made from shipping containers, but there’s nothing contained about the life Alex and Corban Walls live inside it.

When Alex Walls caught the first glimpse of a house that her new boyfriend had built out of shipping containers, she was blown away. Perched on a Muriwai hilltop, it had a kind of king-of-the-castle authority to it. “I’d never seen anything like it. I thought, ‘Who is this guy?’”

Three years later and this guy is now Alex’s husband. Corban and Alex Walls have a complementary yin-and-yang partnership in their love of design – a combo that’s proved a stunning success.

It was on a surfing trip to the West Coast beach that the idea to build a container home was born. Corban enlisted the help of surfing buddy, architectural graduate Fraser Horton, and their journey began. One high-cube 40-foot container soon proved insufficient to accommodate their big dreams; for a three-bedroom home they needed six. “To keep the budget down, we bought C-grade stock that cost around $2800 each,” says Corban.

With skills picked up from his work with his creative engineering  company, Special Projects, he soon had the containers up to scratch – using a grinder to remove rust, a panelbeating dolly to get rid of dents and, finally, cutting the apertures in the steel sides for windows and doors.

He did his job well. Apart from a line-up of weathered panels at the entrance to the home, it’s hard to define the origins of its skeleton. Fraser’s idea to apply a façade of macrocarpa has given the place a more organic presence. Shaped like a capital letter ‘I’, the plan of the home allows two courtyards, front and rear of a central living zone. Bedroom wings sandwich this area and project out into the landscape.

Words Claire McCall  
Photography Simon Wilson