Well-designed shoebox living spaces are a growing trend globally. In Kenya, developers and architects are turning containers into small luxury residences, which can be repurposed into magical pool houses, offices or homes.
Kwekwe Kivutha and Jeremy Moses are among those following in the steps of sustainable living with a repurposed 20-foot container that they turned into a living pod.
Their desire to have a cabin in their rural home in Makueni was a daunting task. They did not know where to source for materials or where to get professionals to put up the cabin.
Having studied architecture at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, where they met, they opted to build their own cabin from scratch.
Last week at the Afrika Handmade 2016 symposium at Alliance Française, they showcased their impressive prototype container house called Moja Pod, which they built through their interior architecture and design company, Two by Four.
Moja Pod drew a lot of interest from many who attended the handmade craft expo, hoping to learn more about the container house and its fittings.
“It is a new modest luxury housing concept for those who want a cosy pod in their backyard or to set it up in their rural home as it can be adopted anywhere,” says Kwekwe.
The pod has a beautifully-designed sitting area with a fully-equipped kitchenette. It has a shower cubicle, a sink and a cabinet as well as a toilet. The bathroom and toilet are tiled to avoid water from sipping into the floor.
The rest of the flooring can be designed according to a client’s preference with the most suitable material being wood vinyl because it is water-resistant.
Kwekwe and Jeremy used laminated board for the interior walls with expansion points in-between the boards to allow expansion when transporting the pod or during hot weather.
The exterior wall is made of cement fibre board, which is water resistant, fireproof and can be painted in whichever colour one prefers.
The house has ample lighting with large vertical windows that open to the outside and a double sliding glass door, with steel enforcement if a client prefers.
The Moja Pod is ready to plug in to all services necessary such as waste, electricity and water.
Both piping and wiring is done during construction to avoid leakages. The bathroom and kitchen piping is channelled to the back wall into a utility closet, which also hosts the electrical circuit and solar heater both in a separate closet. The roof is either left open or they can instal a transparent roofing.
“We want it to be green concept where one can use the roof for various purposes such as grow plants or use solar for their lighting and heating system,” says Jeremy.
A 20-foot container goes for Sh2 million while the 40 foot-container house ranges from Sh3 million, which can come fully furnished and delivered within two to three weeks.
“With the 40 foot container one has space to set up a two bedroom unit which can be a cabin getaway for you and your children,” says Kwekwe.
This has changed fortunes for many home owners in Kenya who would otherwise have thought it impossible to own a home for less than Sh2 million.
Jeremy says that although they are currently selling the Moja Pod, they have received numerous requests to rent it out to expatriates who are in the country for a few months and to non-governmental organisations looking to set up homes for their employees in remote areas.
Also, container houses such as Moja Pod could be a solution to the college student housing shortage.
One of the benefits of this kind of housing is that it can transported on a flat-bed-truck to whichever location at ease and set up elsewhere as long as one ensures there is a stable foundation.
The foundation can either be a cemented ground or four stable posts.