Måns Tham’s Container House is an unconventional Stockholm home

Container House is an unconventional Stockholm home that emerged out of a collaborative process between its owners and Swedish architect Måns Tham

Hero exterior from the side against blue skies of the Container house in Sweden
Container House, by Måns Tham, on the outskirts of Stockholm
(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

In 2015, a couple approached Swedish architect Måns Tham with an unusual idea. They wanted to build a house out of old shipping containers, drawing on their fascination with customised American cars and a DIY, industrial aesthetic. Tham obliged, and following some intensive research on fabrication, engineering and insulation methods to adapt this somewhat ubiquitous but certainly unconventional, especially for homes, building unit, Container House was born. 

The structure sits in the outskirts of Stockholm, perched on a sloped, rocky, suburban site by a lake. Its front door connects to the street via a slim bridge, which makes entering this unusual structure even more dramatic. The final design (which was not too far off from the residence’s initial concept) emerged out of intense consultation with both experts and the clients, who were particularly hands-on with the development of their future home. ‘We ended up having a great iterative process where we designed solutions as we went,’ Tham recalls. ‘The original proposal and plan however never changed.’ 

Picture frame window at the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

As, perhaps, was expected with an architectural design that goes against the norm, the project faced several challenges that Tham had to address. ‘[I needed] to find all the technical solutions that made the house up to code (Sweden has very strict energy rules for new homes) and make those solutions look good and work well,’ he explains. ‘[Additionally], the containers are really not that great a starting point for a home because of their limited width, 2.4m. But as soon as you take out the corrugated walls between two containers to make a wider room, they lose their structural strength. Therefore, we had to put a lot of effort into deciding which walls to cut and which to save, so that we could use the containers with as little additional structure as possible.’

Another key element to consider was fixtures and fittings, flooring and ceilings and all the elements that come together to dress the structural frame and make a house a home. According to Tham, everything – from handrails, to chimneys and taps – needed to be carefully considered and often customised in order to fit within the container house aesthetic and practical requirements. Found objects, such as a wooden staircase that was salvaged from a demolished restaurant site, were also incorporated at places. Floors are poured concrete. 

The result is a striking and inventive structure of some 150 sq m, a labour of love, painted grey to match the surrounding rock. The container units’ geometry dominates the composition and gives a unique rhythm to the façades. Large openings bring plenty of light in – the living and dining space in particular gets flooded with sunlight, while the roof terrace makes a great suntrap, especially in the afternoon and at dusk. Meanwhile, the interior’s rawness is softened by picture-frame windows and long views of the surrounding greenery and suburban context, as nature appears at every corner of Container House.

Hero front facade of the Container house in Stockholm, Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

Facade detail of the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

Interior shot with staircase and open views at the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

Interior view looking across rooms at the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

Bathroom and rocky view at the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

Bridge that leads to the main entrance of the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)

Bedroom at the Container house in Sweden

(Image credit: Staffan Andersson)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from