February 19th, 2014


January 27th, 2013

FabCab – a little expensive, but beautifully gorgeous. And still cheaper than a full-on house. A nice addition to a middle-sized house on a large-enough plot of land.

ShelterKit – not as fancy as the FabCabs, but cheaper.

November 26th, 2012

What is this building?

unidentified building in Bagdad

I saw this burning during the original month of the Iraqi war; I’ve never been able to identify what it is.

I ganked the photo from, where it illustrates an article on a forthcoming five-star hotel. But this building predates the war, and I believe that the hotel is new construction.

UPDATE: 2013.09.21 It appears to be the (old) Iraqi Ministry of Defense. So it presumably was bombed to a shell.

From the air (google-maps)

another photo

Can be seen in the background of this photo (page in Turkish)

Aaaaand here is somebody who identifies it as That Flaming Iraqi Building – you know the one.

And has shots of it burning, what I remember from the news as well.

I should have thought of THOSE search-terms before….

October 10th, 2012

from reflections on the St. Louis City Museum (BoingBoing):


But here’s the thing about the The City Museum: It is actually built out of the city. It is the city. And the city is ancient.


I’m not just talking about “ancient” in American terms. When European explorers showed up on the banks of the Mississippi in 1673, there was already a city at the site of St. Louis — a huge network of mounds and earthworks dating back to the 10th century. Much later, in the late 19th century, this was the location of the fourth largest city in the United States. People are drawn to St. Louis and they have always been drawn to St. Louis.


The last 100 years or so are an aberration in that pattern. But what’s 100 years to a 1000-year-old city? Meanwhile, in that blip, The City Museum rises, literally built from the cast-off parts that other people left to rot. The welded metal and the glass mosaic; the ferris wheel and the airplanes; cement and rebar; an entire collection of beautiful, carved cornices and architectural details left over from the heyday of Euro-American St. Louis — it’s all been salvaged from the dying city and pieced back together like a prayer.


See Also


the ancient city of tlos

August 29th, 2012

or, the cult of the shipping container building.


Office Space

google image-search

DesignBoom: metalab: SPACE shipping container office also at inhabitat. Can’t find a price online, but may possibly be cc. $75K (Houston bought 17 by using a $1.3 million grant).

Inhabitat: Shipping Containers Transform Warehouse Into Office Space

A steel cargo container becomes a backyard retreat

$1800 used shipping container as architects’ backyard office

I must have first seen something like this in Stewart Brand’s How Buildings Learn (online excerpt)


DailyGreen: Amazing Homes and Offices Built from Shipping Containers (slideshow)
All Terrain Cabin (for a family of four)
(sixth item in slideshow)

Canada’s Bark Design Collective built the All Terrain Cabin (ATC) as a showcase for sustainable (and Canadian!) ingenuity. The small home is based on a standard shipping container, and is said to be suitable for a family of four, plus a pet, to live off the grid in comfort and style.

The cabin folds up to look like any old shipping container, and can be sent via rail, truck, ship, airplane or even helicopter. When you’re ready to rest your bones, the cabin quickly unfolds to 480 square feet of living space, with a range of creature comforts.

[NOTE: the link goes to some other photos of the ATC, none of which are in “nature.” But neither is the one above, which looks like a rendering/Photoshop job.]
More info in waybackmachine and photos.

dornob: DIY Used Cargo Homes & Shipping Container House Plans
House built from 8 stacked containers (self-designed)

8 eye-catching shipping container homes

Inhabitat: This Shipping Container home in Duluth, MN hasn’t revamped the container exteriors at all, and it sorta works. Don’t think my wife would go for this look, though.
Holyoke Cabin in Duluth, MN


Wikipedia: Shipping container architecture

How to find used shipping containers

How to Find and Buy Good Used Cargo Containers

See Also:

August 28th, 2012

In lieu of a simple, spacious, modernist house that I can never afford (nor talk my wife into), I’d like a little cabin “out back.”

If I had a Ted Kaczynski cabin with a wood-stove, solar power + batteries, pumped/rain water, lanterns, and a typewriter (plus space for a laptop), I could still write/make stuff that is somehow NOW, not a 19th century leftover.

I still have lingering fears/doubts about the future, leftover 1980s concerns over the collapse of civilization that we excreted into all of those Road Warrior movies, only now it’s come back to haunt us with the econopocalypse and DNS malware botnets. There is some future in going off the grid, but being aware of the grid, and dealing with the grid, and trying to encourage the grid to be griddish and non-griddish, to be discrete, interconnected and disconnected, re-routable and not dependent on the electrons, and able to self-repair with some non-digital components, to repair itself in the dark, and to survive things.

Plus, you know, the NSA can’t read what you type and pass around by hand. The old Soviet samizdat……

hoo-hah! paranoia! rants! mad bombers! are there enough keywords in here yet?

Seriously, I’d like a little cabin out back, with some power and a cable-internet connection. But with some solar panels, a bike/wind generator, hand-pump well, lamps, etc. And space for some bookshelves and a manual typewriter. And a nice porch-cum-deck, so we could grill back here, and enjoy some days away from the television. It would be cheaper than expanding the house. Although we don’t own it.

and then there are all of the we-love-humid-connecticut bugs.

and, ugh, spiders.


This is a small link-dump of some things I’ve seen recently.

Maine cabin, off-the-grid

The Bellomo House Arc is a small, beautiful pre-fab. And supposedly $65K for a single module.

A clean-line cabin in Wisconsin.

A solar yurt. Not so sure about the whole “round” thing. Nature is curvy because things grow; our products are rectilinear because it’s easier to cut straight lines and 90-degree angles.

See Also: some specifics on cargo-container homes.

I’ve thought about trailers, etc., and while they hit the size and price-point (due to mass-production), the actual use of transport to me seems inefficient. How much gas does it take to haul one of those things around? Does it really offset the cost of a decent motel?

Buying one and using it in a permanent location seems like a mis-fit — they were designed to be mobile, and are built for such a purpose. I’d like something more solid. But, if the mass-produced cost-offset of a designed-to-be-portable-but-keeps-it-parked-in-the-woods is they way to go, that could be a way to go.

MOBILE HOMES ARE NOT AN OPTION. There’s just something icky about them. I’d so much rather go with a re-purposed shipping container.

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