CONTAINER HOUSE from IFFI Productions on Vimeo.

Once a shipping container reaches U.S. shores, it becomes 6 tons of junk. Architect Christian Salvati wants to turn that junk into homes.

And he's trying it out in New Haven, Conn., stacking and joining the huge metal boxes together in a way that Salvati says will cut construction time and eventually the cost of housing, while still providing amenities people want.

Tucked onto a side street in New Haven's Hill neighborhood, the first example of a home constructed from these steel containers was dropped into place in 2011.

It's pretty clear from the side that you are looking at gray-painted shipping containers.

But Salvati, from Marengo Structures, LLC of New York, put a painted, red wooden facade and small porch on the front of the house to help it blend with the multifamily homes on the rest of the street that are typical housing stock in the city.

In a video of the construction of the Vernon Street project, which Salvati owns (one floor is rented out) the architect gives a floor-by-floor description of the process.


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“Ultimately we see architecture going in the direction possibly of Henry Ford in the mechanization of construction,” Salvati says in the video.

“Down the line, once we have developed our know-how, we think we should be able to save about 40 percent across the board in price and in time, while still maintaining the same level of quality,” he said.

From a green perspective, these containers are basically obsolete once they are emptied, piling up on shipping docks as it is cheaper to just bring in new ones filled from Asia than to ship them back empty.