A $40K prefab container home in NYC?

Just a few short years ago, living in a shipping container was considered to be a slightly upmarket version of living in a dumpster. Now, however, containers are being recycled for housing purposes across the globe, with a remarkably chic reputation being attached to the practice. Readily available, affordable, easily weatherproofed, roomy, conveniently expandable, and unsurprisingly easy to ship, they might just take off.

MEKA Modular Housing

The derelict shanty cities of empty containers surrounding most major ports mirror the story of trade deficits. Their inexpensiveness is their downfall: across long haul trade routes, it’s comparable in price to buy a new container on one’s own side of the ocean than ship the old unit back empty. So their abundance, coupled with their stackable structural integrity, has stirred many an architect’s creative juices.

We’re used to seeing such modular housing made from containers in perhaps Sweden or Japan, or some other equally mod location, set against a manufactured rural backdrop or occasionally even a real one. But this house from MEKA Modular Homes (pronounced ‘make-ah’) has been erected bang in the middle of downtown Manhattan.

MEKA Modular Housing

The MEKA House A320 was dropped off on the corner of Washington and Charles streets in Greenwich Village. (Tom Stoelker)

MEKA Modular Housing

Bamboo lines most of the interior.

Sited in a disused parking lot in Greenwich Village on the corner of Washington and Charles streets, I’m not sure “erected” is even the right word. “Dropped off” is probably more accurate.

MEKA Modular Housing

The units are lined with bamboo, a highly sustainable wood because it grows like, well, bamboo, and the siding is rot-resistant cedar. Obviously it’s recommended that an electrician and plumber install the appliances and grid hookups, but the units do come with water-retention and solar power options for those of us that eschew paying those pesky utility bills.

Shipped from the manufacturing plant in China 90% complete, it takes 5-7 days to finish up the installation with nothing more than a screwdriver and a hammer, according to one of the design partners in the four-man company, Christos Marcopoulous of Toronto’s Studio (n-1). Along with fellow designer Jason Halter, their goal is to maintain a high design quality, while MEKA founder Michael de Jong streamlines the delivery and installation process and Stephen Do supervises construction in Ningbo, China.

The price? A cool $39,000. In downtown Manhattan.

These next few images are from Meka World’s website:

MEKA Modular Housing

MEKA Modular Housing

MEKA Modular Housing

Outsourced housing. Gotta love it. The ALP320 model in Manhattan is open for viewing from 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday). It is located at the corner of Washington Street and Charles Street. Go take a look yourself.

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Via Inhabitat, Treehugger and ArchPaper

First three images from ArchPaper

Final three from Meka World


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  1. 4
    Art Carlson

    I’ve been enamored with the Tumbleweed Tiny Houses (still am) but this one has grabbed me by the throat! What a GREAT idea and what a fantastic design execution!
    This is certifiably tremendous and could probably be the one element to really spark the tiny house movement.

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