Their home may be made from shipping containers, but there’s nothing contained about the life Alex and Corban Walls live inside it.

When Alex Walls caught the first glimpse of a house that her new boyfriend had built out of shipping containers, she was blown away. Perched on a Muriwai hilltop, it had a kind of king-of-the-castle authority to it. “I’d never seen anything like it. I thought, ‘Who is this guy?’”

Three years later and this guy is now Alex’s husband. Corban and Alex Walls have a complementary yin-and-yang partnership in their love of design – a combo that’s proved a stunning success.

It was on a surfing trip to the West Coast beach that the idea to build a container home was born. Corban enlisted the help of surfing buddy, architectural graduate Fraser Horton, and their journey began. One high-cube 40-foot container soon proved insufficient to accommodate their big dreams; for a three-bedroom home they needed six. “To keep the budget down, we bought C-grade stock that cost around $2800 each,” says Corban.

With skills picked up from his work with his creative engineering  company, Special Projects, he soon had the containers up to scratch – using a grinder to remove rust, a panelbeating dolly to get rid of dents and, finally, cutting the apertures in the steel sides for windows and doors.

He did his job well. Apart from a line-up of weathered panels at the entrance to the home, it’s hard to define the origins of its skeleton. Fraser’s idea to apply a façade of macrocarpa has given the place a more organic presence. Shaped like a capital letter ‘I’, the plan of the home allows two courtyards, front and rear of a central living zone. Bedroom wings sandwich this area and project out into the landscape.

Words Claire McCall  
Photography Simon Wilson


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