I think this is an interesting article - thinking "inside the box" in a new way.
Here's a photo and some of the text:
photo by Paul Joseph Brown
caption - Designer Joel Egan, above, and architect Robert Humble designed this cabin in Enumclaw using shipping containers. Cargo containers are cheap, plentiful, strong and durable.
On Architecture: Transforming cargo containers into a weekend studio
By LAWRENCE W. CHEEK
If there's any positive spin to the U.S.-Asian trade imbalance, it might be resting in the bottom of a wooded river canyon near Enumclaw -- two scuffed and scarred cargo containers that a pair of Seattle architects have ingeniously transformed into a weekend studio.
It wasn't as inexpensive as it looks, and it decidedly isn't beautiful, but this 320-square-foot "cargotecture" prototype is stuffed with more intriguing and challenging ideas than a whole subdivision of conventional builders' new houses. If you accept the assumptions that housing today costs too much, consumes too much and adapts too reluctantly to individuals' differing needs -- all dead-on, in the view from here -- then this steel crate is worth a look beyond its homely skin.
Robert Humble, 37, and Joel Egan, 35, developed Studio 320 as an outgrowth of their work for Allied Arts' Seattle waterfront design collaborative in 2003. They proposed a "cargotown" of apartment buildings at Terminal 46 assembled from containers, creating an affordable live-work industrial neighborhood that could easily adapt to changing space and housing needs. Incorporated as the art-and-architecture firm HyBrid, they've since designed a couple of urban mini-towers, a Third World triage clinic, and several other cargo container buildings. The Enumclaw studio, completed over last winter, is the first realized project.
Some of the reasons for making surplus containers into architecture are obvious. They're cheap and plentiful -- the 40-foot box that became one half of Studio 320 cost $1,800 delivered. Egan says that because of the trade imbalance, it's sometimes more economical for shippers to sell used containers here than ship them back to China empty. They're terrifically strong and durable, designed to be stacked up to 14 units deep on container ships and nine high on docks. They're highly portable, handily delivered by truck, train or ship. And they may be the most direct, efficient form of turning recycled goods into housing.
Less obviously, all the structural load in an 8-by-40-by-9 1/2-foot container is carried by the corner castings, steel columns at each of the four corners. This means that doors and windows can occur anywhere else in the structure. Whole walls can be cut out and replaced with glass, and interior walls can be anywhere or nowhere. The boxes can be stacked like giant Lego blocks, cantilevered into space to create intriguing overhangs and practical decks, or cut apart and reassembled into new configurations.
See link above for the rest of the article.