Behind the steel of Maine’s first shipping container summer home

Chad Walton owner (right) and his daughter Kelsey Walton the vice president of SnapSpace Solutions in Brewer. (BDN photo by Gabor Degre)

Chad Walton owner (right) and his daughter Kelsey Walton the vice president of SnapSpace Solutions in Brewer. (BDN photo by Gabor Degre)

You can’t get far down your social media feeds these days without seeing an interesting building project, and it seems like one of the hotter trends in niche construction these days is repurposing old materials.

One of the more popular things to repurpose for housing is the old, reliable shipping container.

Readers were fascinated last summer by the BDN’s profile of Belfast businessman Steve White’s houseboat constructed of shipping containers.

The bright red houseboat owned by Steve White, partner in Front Street Shipyard and owner of Brooklin Boat Yard, docked at the Front Street Shipyard on Wednesday in Belfast. (BDN photo by Gabor Degre)

The bright red houseboat owned by Steve White, partner in Front Street Shipyard and owner of Brooklin Boat Yard, docked at the Front Street Shipyard on Wednesday in Belfast. (BDN photo by Gabor Degre)

The Brewer-based SnapSpace Solutions has made a business out of converting shipping containers to fill a wide range of building needs — from housing to temporary computer labs and other pop-up work places.

Shipping containers can be stacked up in any arrangement to make nearly any size or shape of building, like giant Legos. People can furnish one 20-foot shipping container and plug into both the repurposing and “tiny house” crazes at once, or they can pile the rectangular steel boxes high and create modern-looking mansions.

The so-called Adriance House in Brooklin — named for owners Anne and Matthew Adriance — is closer to the latter, constructed using 12 shipping containers and designed by perhaps the country’s best-known shipping container architect, Adam Kalkin.

The Adriance House was also built in 2003 — before Facebook and long before the social media explosion of quirky homes — according to sustainable building website Jetson Green, which featured the home six years later. Now, the Adriance House can be looked back on as Maine’s first shipping container summer home.

So how did Kalkin use the shipping containers to maximize the Adriances’ summer space and maintain the family’s connection with their wild Maine surroundings? The use of traditional garage-door technology, concrete and pavement, surprisingly, was one of the keys to keeping the Adriances in touch with nature.

According to the website Design Boom, the whole space of the home is nearly 4,000 square feet. Jetson Green reported that Kalkin kept the price of the project around $125 per square foot.

Watch this HGTV feature to learn about the layout and strategy behind it: