Rethink Your Life!
Finance, health, lifestyle, environment, philosophy
The Work of Art and The Art of Work
Kiko Denzer on Art

[Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales, and cob

Marlin Nissen marlin_nissen at
Thu Jun 26 19:04:07 CDT 2008

I agree, using shipping containers for a frame seems relevant to me and those (experts of course believe they own a subject) could use discretion when claiming "this is the most off topic, weird etc. etc." when there's been many MORE off topic discussions about politics etc....... I think crates covered with Cob/Earth Plaster is very relevant.

I think the subject is interesting and would love to see a combo recycled and earthen building. I've planned to use waxed cardboard bales and Cob together, yet I know this not PURIST Cob building - tisk tisk......................

???what about Milk Crates wired together & packed/stuffed with straw and covered with Cob? How bout that for a topic?

BTW I like the conical roof as this is a tough subject to deal with and also doing work without cover is difficult at least around the midwest,,,it'd be nice to have cover before cobbing!


--- On Thu, 6/26/08, Elizabeth Evans <vesperlight at> wrote:
From: Elizabeth Evans <vesperlight at>
Subject: Re: [Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales, and cob
To: coblist at, "Selvoy Fillerup" <selvoy at>
Date: Thursday, June 26, 2008, 2:37 PM

I know I'm usually just a lurker -- but if the list can discuss
straw-bale/cob hybrids, mobile-home/cob hybrids, superadobe/cob hybrids,
cordwood/cob hybrids, and conventional/cob hybrids -- all of which I have
seen discussed here -- I don't see why we can't discuss shipping
container/cob hybrids.

That said -- if I can ever afford to stop lurking and start building, I will
buy the top books on both cob and superadobe (my top 2 choices), read them
cover to cover, make phone calls, ask questions, take workshops in the
method I choose, and build some small trial projects to get a feel for it.
This is a reasonable investment to make in the safety and durability of the
roof over my head (hopefully, the roof that will last the rest of my life
and my son's life and my grandchildren's lives).

On the subject of high ceilings, take a look at  This designer suggests that you
could build one of his roofs, then build up cob walls to meet them, with
shelter while you work.

I have also looked at the info available on shipping container building and
am intrigued by it. Shipping containers can be covered inside and out with
conventional siding and sheetrock or with more natural alternatives or
recycled matariels-- they don't have to look like corrugated steel. You can
get high ceilings by stacking them (lots of possible configurations) and
cutting out the metal between them...

For the list:  Used shipping containers are cheap (around $2000 last time I
did a search) because our trade deficit means that shipping containers used
to ship goods to the U.S. are piling up in railyards. Recycled shipping
containers can be installed on concrete piers with a minumum use of concrete
and are actually another ingenious solution for low-cost housing (not as
cool, wonderful and ingenious as cob of course...) How "green" they
are depends on all of the other decisions that going into how they are used.
And you obviously want clean containers with no nasty residues.

I can't find a link, but somewhere there's a page showing a shipping
container that was used to build a minimum impact research base for studying
a jungle site.  They put it on piers (no excavation) and set up solar

If you want to play with designs, try mock-ups in cardboard for a hand-on
3-D trial, or download SketchUp from Google and invest a few hours in the can download shipping container sketches (and many other
standard building features such as windows and sliding doors)  from their a landscape...and stack them up....

It occurs to me that if you can incorporate it aesthetically into your
design, you could use a container for temporary shelter while you build a
cob house, and use it for a garage/workshop/garden shed when the home is

Just my 2 cents.