What once held cargo on trains or ships might now hold a family. Meet the shipping container house.

Shipping Container Houses a Green Trend

(Image: World Flex Home)

Danish designers at World Flex Home — and others as well — have been transforming these large cargo containers into modular housing that can be anything from single-family to duplex to a complex of townhomes. Not only is their design relatively flexible, but the components can be shipped and constructed anywhere around the world.

Shipping Container Houses a Green Trend

(Photo: Arcagency/ Photos by Jens Markus Lindhe via TreeHugger)

Shipping Container Houses a Green Trend

(Image: World Flex Home)

For example, ArcgencY pointed out that a pilot World Flex Home was put up in Wuxi, China.

“The WFH concept is a modular concept, based on a design principle, using 40 feet high cube standard modules as structural system,” the World Flex Home states in its informational materials. “The structure can be adapted to local challenges such as climatic or earthquake issues. Online customization-tools give clients the possibility to decide their own version of the house concerning layout, size, facade, interior etc. The configuration happens within a predefined framework that will ensure high architectural value and quality of materials. Building-components are prefabricated and on site construction can be limited.”

Shipping Container Houses a Green Trend

(Image: World Flex Home)

Shipping Container Houses a Green Trend

(Image: World Flex Home)

The 180-square-meter model uses 50 percent less energy than the standard requirement for new housing in Denmark. Designs also use solar panels and even feature a green roof, which can harvest water rain water that can be used for things like toilet flushing.

Ultimately, the design, according to World Flex Home’s website, should allow the homes to “produce more energy than they consume, and to withstand earthquakes.”

Although “very green,” one problem TreeHugger had with the design is that it just uses the crates as “strong building blocks” and doesn’t expose their inherent look in the design.

This design is certainly not the first to use shipping containers in building either. Mother Nature Network has several photos of shipping container homes in a variety of designs from simple to complex. The idea is also similar to New York City’s design for “My Micro NY” apartment project, which according to an artist’s rendition looks similar to shipping containers.

Shipping Container Houses a Green Trend

(Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office via the New York Times)

Earlier this year, Vancouver announced it would be launching a social housing project made from shipping containers by 2015 in a bid to end homelessness and increase housing options for lower income households.

Learn more about the World Flex Home specs here.