Group 41 Inc. Unveils the H House

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San Francisco's Group 41 Inc. Breaks New Ground in Shipping Container Design

Award-Winning Boutique Design Firm Enters the Google 10 to 100 International Humanitarian Competition and Accepts Major Shipping Container Commission

[SAN FRANCISCO, CA, JANUARY 8, 2009]: San Francisco-based architecture and design firm Group 41 Inc. ( enters exciting new territory in 2009 with its contribution to the Google 10 to 100 Competition and its first major shipping container commission. The firm's pioneering work delves into all aspects of this new design prospect- ranging from using shipping containers as non-traditional homes; as a potential solution to the world's overwhelming need for emergency and homeless shelter; and as a viable option to developers who are looking for creative, green housing alternatives.

"I have always believed that shipping containers are the building resource of the future," explains Founder and Principal Joel Karr. "I have been working on shipping container architecture for more than ten years, continuously seeking out opportunities to introduce the building world to the multi-faceted potential of this innovative building resource. This year, we have gained traction with conceptual design awards and competitions, and are proud to announce our first major shipping container project."

Introducing... Upcycling

Group 41 Inc.'s momentum was kick-started earlier this year when the firm won a Lifecycle Building Challenge award for its creative, "Contain Your Enthusiasm" submission which proposed "upcycling" used shipping containers as a highly green and responsible alternative to traditional building materials.

"Used shipping containers are the refuse of modern, consumer society," said Karr. "About 50% are designed for a single use and with the high cost of their reuse; they pile up at major shipping points, left to rust. The problem grows are we continue to consume more and population grows."

Group 41's design demonstrated how three containers can make a gracious three-bedroom home of 1300 SF with nine-foot ceilings. The design softens the industrial quality with simple wood trellis elements that also provide shading.

For more details on Group 41's work in shipping container architecture, visit

Saving the World- One Container at a Time

With this recent win under the firm's belt, they turned their attention to utilizing shipping container design to help solve one of the world's greatest challenges- housing the homeless. Their submission to Google Inc.'s 10 to 100 call for beneficial, world-changing ideas, proposed upcycling containers and transforming them into emergency and homeless shelters. By employing the simplest of systems, the green housing utilizes one container, photovoltaic panels and rainwater cisterns, creating a comfortable home for an extended family; a simple, yet innovative solution to a monumental global problem. The Google competition has generated more than 150,000 online submissions that range from energy and the environment to shelter and education. The top 100 ideas will be announced by Google in late January 2009 at which point voting will be opened up to the public to help identify the top 20 semi-finalists.

Going Green in Utah

Also currently on the boards is a 200-unit housing complex in a suburb of Salt Lake City, part of the city's latest revitalization efforts. The transit-oriented project is in the beginning phases of conceptual design and Group 41 is working closely with the developers to ensure high "green" standards that include upcycling shipping containers.

"In addition to being an environmentally responsible alternative, used containers are designed for long term durability and minimal maintenance, making them an ideal, affordable material, when building in scale and volume" notes Karr.

As the economic landscape changes and the building industry becomes increasingly competitive, builders will rely on architects and designers to generate innovative and cost-effective design solutions. Considering their availability, durability, and sustainability, shipping containers will certainly become building blocks for the future and Group 41 is well positioned to lead the way as shipping container architecture continues to evolve.