Czech architect Ales Javurek has won a competition with his design of a vacation house overlooking Sydney’s Bondi Beach using discarded shipping containers.

The competition was launched by AC-CA (Architectural Competition – Concours d’Architecture) and focused on promoting, inspiring and stimulating creative ideas and innovative projects.

The contest aimed to encourage and reward design excellence at a small scale with competitors asked to create a project that integrates function, structure, details and the spirit of a waterfront home.

The competition’s brief invited participants to research and investigate the different combination possibilities for freight container units to meet the specifications. It sought to generate discussion and ideas about the reuse of freight container modules and to encourage the employment of sustainable design.

container vacation house competition

The ground floor features a large open social area, including living and dining rooms connected to the kitchen.

Metal shipping containers are being used as building modules in architecture more and more in recent years. Since they are easy to stack, they allow for rapid construction at a low cost.

Javurek’s project beat out 306 other entries. His proposal features horizontal wooden slabs supported by slight columns. Between the timber, the shipping containers were used to define living spaces.

The project was located on a sloped site, offering panoramic views of the beach and the sea. The architect’s main goal was to design a contemporary and sustainable vacation house that fit sensitively into the context of the site and suited Sydney’s weather conditions.

“One of my priorities was to keep the existing trees, amount of lawn and slope profile,” he said.

As a result, the parking space was placed high on the slope, separated from the house by existing trees, while the existing green lawn was relocated to the roof to create a private garden.

container vacation house competition

Floor plans by Ales Javurek

The house features 300 square metres of outdoor space and 295 square metres of indoor space, divided into two levels. On the ground floor, there is a large open social area that includes the living and dining room connected to the kitchen, as well as a home office and storage areas. The living area opens out to a terrace next to a swimming pool, offering views of the beach.

The upstairs features a private area that includes the master bedroom with a wardrobe and ensuite bathroom, and three guest-rooms, each with a private bathroom. The private rooms were built out of of the containers and the social/public areas are located in the spaces in between these crates and delineated by glass panels. The rooms all have open views of the surrounding seascape.

According to Javurek, each space was organised according to its function and the home’s layout groups these functions together in a logical way.

“I believe that internal connection between spaces and users’ circulation is absolutely essential. That is why I provided clear, straight connections between platforms with barrier-free entrance and corridors which are orthogonal to the main axis,” he said.

The house was designed to adapt well to the changing climate, making it a year-round vacation home. During the summer, wooden pergolas protect the interior from the sun and solar gain is reduced by the green roof. Simply opening the glass doors allows natural ventilation and provides fresh air.

container vacation house competition

The parking space is atop the slope and separated from the house by existing trees. The swimming pool on the lower level also takes advantage of the slope of the site.

During the cold months, glazed surfaces increase warmth from the sun, with the green roof keeping heat inside, and the internal spaces form a simple glass box which is easy to heat.

“The elegant juxtaposition of shipping containers and horizontal timber planes creates a very simple building that reflects a very positive emotional space and experience,” the competition’s jury said. “The interesting inter-play between the different materials of steel container and wood together with transparencies give this project a positive edge. There is an element of surprise within this project even as it attempts to retain and stay true to the container DNA.”