A Passivhaus dwelling constructed of shipping containers


Broadgate, Sutton St James, Lincolnshire

State of the art eco-friendly home friendly home in Sutton St James, Lincolnshire, this property encourages natural biodiversity


This project will create the first certified passivhaus dwelling from recycled waste shipping containers in Lincolnshire and support an existing and expanding business.


The client wanted to reflect their business – shipping containers – in a unique way by designing their home from no longer used shipping containers, with the aim of providing sustainability and innovation. By locating this property adjacent their existing business to reduce their travel to work.


Our team of design experts were excited to work on the first passivhaus constructed from recycled shipping containers in South Holland District Council and perhaps even England. To deliver an innovative high-quality dwelling, the project also featured:

  • rainwater harvesting

  • renewable energy generation 

  • electrical car charging

  • powerless sewage treatment

  • landscaping

  • superinsulation, 

  • and the benefits of living and working on the same site which helps increase sustainability through reduced vehicle movements.

The aesthetic is driven by the use of shipping containers and the form of the dwelling has been kept deliberately simple and modest to reflect the simplistic agricultural structures, which are typical of the area. In addition, material pallet has been selected to reflect the typical rural materiality comprising of corrugated cladding and CorTen rusted steel to reflect the natural weathering of farm buildings.

The Full Story

Our client, Mr and Mrs Reed, came to us with their idea for designing their home from recycled shipping containers. Mrs Reed said: “The house will be made of old shipping containers. We buy and sell them for a living. Creating a house out of them just made sense. We wanted something contemporary and we’re very much into recycling.

“When the containers are finished at sea it costs a lot to get rid of them, so we thought about doing this.”

Located in Sutton St James, this project has been driven by the client’s desire to improve the setting of the area and efficiently utilise a parcel of previously developed brownfield land comprising of a former blacksmiths forge and scrub land of low ecological and biodiversity value.  

This innovative project was divisive for South Holland District Council, however, despite this we wanted to ensure this project would prove any doubters of its aesthetic wrong.

Achieving the passivhaus standard, low energy and CO2 emissions

As previously outline this scheme re-purposes brownfield land and waste shipping containers, combined with passivhaus and low energy design techniques to truly minimise its environmental impact.

Simply by making the building the right shape and the correct orientation you can reduce a buildings energy consumption by 30-40% with little, or no, additional cost.

The key outputs are indicating that the proposal will meet the Passivhaus criteria and achieve the following:  

  • Heating Demand – 14.494 kWh/m2/a   

  • Heating Load – 11.037 kWh/m2/a 

  • Overheating – 5.8% 

  • Primary Energy – 105 kWh/m2/a 

  • Airtightness – 0.6 1/h 

These results indicate that the proposal based on current design assumptions meet the passivhaus standard.

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