Turning Old to New

Turning Old to New


The Crossbox container house stands out from the houses of a small French town, and it shows that a shipping container can also serve as housing space.

The small town of Pont-Péan, with its 3,661 inhabitants, is one of 353 municipalities of the French Department Ille et Vilaine. It is located in the North-western part of France and is the most Eastern department of Brittany. In 2009, the Crossbox container house was built here by French architectural firm CGArchitectes under the supervision of Clément Gillet. The project’s building costs were about € 150,000. The container house is the first prototype of the Built-by-Boxes concept by the company. Further prototypes made of steel boxes are planned to follow.

Architect and Visionary

Clément Gillet completed his studies in 1995 at Greenwich University in London and founded the firm CGArchitectes in Chartres-de-Bretagne in 2001. Before that he had worked for Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam.

Clément Gillet describes his office community as a team of architects and designers each of which has a strong personality. This is what people are supposed to find reflected in the modern and radical architecture of the individual projects. To Gillet and his co-workers the office is a “special place” where knowledge, competence and enthusiasm meet and get shared.

Living in a Box

The Crossbox house consists of four 40` containers. Each has a capacity of 66 cubic meters and a surface area of about 30 square meters. Two containers have been connected to form one floor. The upper floor sits on top of the first floor turned by 90 degrees. It is faced with façade panels of various shades of green. As a contrast in color to the top containers  the façade of the bottom ones is held in plain black. Only the different coloring of the floors shows that these are two individual container modules that have merely been placed on top of each other. Otherwise the two containers are a unit and melt together to form an expressive building.

Comfort on little Space

On the first floor of the 104 square meter residential house you will find a generous and bright living area. A small hallway leads, past the guest restrooms and the opposing stairs, to the kitchen and the dining area. On the top floor there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. From here you get onto the roof of the lower box, across the hallway to the right, to the bedroom on the left. The green rooftop areas are used as additional garden areas. The crossing of the boxes placed on top of each other has created a roofed entrance as well as a roof place for parking a car.  

Living Trend Container

For a few years already container buildings have found their place in the field of architecture and construction art. They are not expensive and can be assembled and disassembled quickly. Apart from that, a small contribution to our environment can be made through re-purposing the steel boxes not in use anymore. However, with a life-cycle of about 25 years the containers can only be deployed as temporary housing forms. Passive house standards cannot be achieved by far yet. But many institutes and universities deal with this topic and develop solutions for improvement.

The shipping containers are not only recycled as residential houses, by the way. They also lead a second life as dormitories, museums, hotels and various kinds of buildings. Even star architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & De Meuron are planningprojectsdealing with these multi-faceted steel boxes.

Project details




Completed in 2009


Living space: 104 square meters


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idareu01's picture
idareu01 12. July 2013 - 19:59

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danniels's picture
danniels 15. May 2014 - 10:08

I've been planing to get myself a container home for quite some time now, in fact I want to be the one who designs the home and actively participate during the assembly process. There's so much you can do with these containers, you can turn them into an awesome home as long as you know how to go about finishing it. I would go for the flooring I've seen on www.mcicarpetone.com/ and then just play with the interior design options.

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jeremycort88's picture
jeremycort88 29. July 2014 - 10:56

Beautiful architectural. Im thinking of renovating an old container ( http://swmobilestorage.com/ ) and planning to do it a small room studio.

jeremycort88's picture
jeremycort88 29. July 2014 - 10:58

Beautiful architectural. Im thinking of renovating an old container ( http://swmobilestorage.com/ ) and planning to do it a small room studio.

angelapowell108's picture
angelapowell108 17. October 2014 - 9:49

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antonovici's picture
antonovici 30. November 2014 - 12:48

It is very easy to turn something old into something new if you have the right materials and construction plans. You can check grout restoration and recolor if you are looking for ideas regarding inside and outside recoloring. There are some colors that you can take in consideration if you don't want to repaint once at a few years.

parascheva's picture
parascheva 3. December 2014 - 13:25

Not many architects or construction companies have this talent of turning something old in something new but useful and creative. You can use cleaning grout to make your tile appear new but you can't use a product like a fairy dust on a building. You need to find out how the previous building was built and how you can add something new on the old plans. You have to be careful especially if you are making something for the whole community.

billmarket17's picture
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jeremycort88's picture
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harishseo85's picture
harishseo85 16. May 2016 - 23:05

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jeremycort88's picture
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