Ross School - Senior Projects 2012


Student: Nicolaus Nagel

Mentor: Ned Smyth

Domain(s): Visual Arts 90%; Science 10%

Faculty Grader: Todd French




Documentation of Product


Title: Green Container Homes


I focused my Senior Project on green architecture. I designed a 3D model of a

sustainable house, with the computer program Vector Works, using several

different green technologies, such as solar panels and passive solar. I chose

shipping containers as my building material, because I thought it was interesting

to explore what one can do with such simple shapes.



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Gallery Movie:



Floor Plans:

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Exhibition & Presentation Summary

Before deciding how my house was going to be designed I had to choose a general concept and an area where the house will be used. I wanted the house to be a simple and cheap in construction so it would be more cost effective. Since thinking environment friendly becomes more and more important I decided to make my house as green as possible. By this I mean that it uses technologies such as wind, solar, passive solar etc. in order to be occupied.

            My first idea of designing a green house was strongly influenced by container houses. I thought that it was and still is, very interesting to see what one can do with such a simple form. Since it is such a simple form, I had to think of something that makes the design more unique. Many container houses look alike and I wanted my to be different. This explains the use of the wall that cuts through the house in an about 45-degree angle. The wall adds an extra shape to the house and not only gives it more unique look but also is one of the major green heat gainers of the house. Several tubes run through the South turned wall, the water that runs through these tubes is heated and then finally run through both floors the give heat to the house; this technology is also known as “Solar Water Heating System”.  The water and pump that is needed for this system is located under ground, so the wall just goes into the ground, which I think gives it an interesting look.

I chose Iceland, as my location because I thought the environment is very interesting. Since my house is self-sustainable it can be in places where other houses cannot, and I felt that Iceland has a lot of these sites. Also it is more challenging to design a house for such a cold climate and due to the fact that it rains a lot in that area it fit the concept of my house, which is based on the heating with water. Another reason was that since Iceland has mostly rough weather conditions I could use wind energy as a electricity source. I found out that with an average wind speed of 30 mph I could get an annual out put of about 6595 kwh per year. This would be more than enough for the small house.

            Like the wall, the two boards that go over the two top containers are also only partly part of the design. They serve as water catchers with their slight incline towards the house. This helps also to make my house self-sustainable because it will not require any drinking water connection to a town or in general to an urban system.

            The containers used for this house are not normal 40 by 8 feet containers, they have extra 15 by 5 feet “rooms” that are pulled out of the container and enlarge the space inside. Also I felt this again would put something special on the simple shape. Drawing the floor plans was fun and challenging at the same time. Dividing the limited space inside so that I would be satisfied was hard and took a while. Due to the cold weather I had to make the walls thicker than the norm. This meant that my R-value was between 50-60 accordant to an about 8-inch wall with an insulation of Polyurethane Foam. If one looks at the 2nd floor containers he or she can see that the windows are located symmetrically on both sides in a way that if a person stands inside almost gets a 180 degree view, which I find very important for a house; especially in such a beautiful environment of Iceland. I could have chosen any color for the container but I chose the color red, because I felt it would make it clear that they are actually containers.

Overall the house is not very big and not to be thought to be a permanent residence, it is a house that is used from two people at a time for a couple of days. However, due to the simple design this type of house is easily rebuilt able and can be located on Iceland more than once. Because the house does not need any connection to the “outside” world, and can stand in locations where normal house could not, it can be used from tourists, especially hikers, who do not seek a very exquisite vacation but want to enjoy the rare nature which more and more gets lost in our modern world.





Bibliography or Works Consulted


Attmann, Osman. Green Architecture: Advanced Technologies and Materials. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

EERE: Energy Savers Home Page. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>


Behrooz, Maziar


Container Architecture - Shipping Container House Design and Construction in New Zealand. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.


Cowart, Lucas


"Grey Water Recycling." Renewable Energies, Energy Efficiency and Saving of Natural Resources. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.


"Greywater Systems for Home and Garden - Green Building Energy Savings." Green Building Energy Savings - Money Saving Sustainable Building Techniques. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.


Howard, Brian Clark. "Shipping Container Homes - Cargo Container Houses - The Daily Green." Going Green, Fuel Efficiency, Organic Food, and Green Living - The Daily Green. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.


"Insulating Shipping Container Homes." Shipping Container House/Home Plans and Container City Designs. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.


"Sun Mar Centrex 1000 NE | Non Electric Compost Toilets by Sun-Mar." Composting Toilet | Best Compost Toilets | Sun Mar Systems. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.


"Thames & Hudson Publishers | Essential Illustrated Art Books | New Natural Home." Thames & Hudson Publishers | Essential Illustrated Art Books | Home Page. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <>.