Shipping Container House

The Black Star: A Toronto Gem

cover 📸: Noah Ganhao for Luso Life

Above what was once Toronto's Harlem Underground restaurant rises The Black Star, a shipping container home built using a combination of modular & traditional construction techniques.

toronto_life_exterior_photo📸: Toronto Life

Ana & Carl Cassell, successful restauranteurs and artists, designed and built the home themselves over the restaurant space that they also own. They were able to keep the restaurant open for the duration of the build, which took far longer than they had initially hoped for. 

As Toronto's first shipping container home, they ran into challenges and delays along the way; it took six years from sketches and design phase to acquire permits and satisfy the administrative needs for the project.  

sc_house_sketch_carl_cassell📸: Carl Cassell

Once they broke ground, it would be another three years before they would be able to move into the completed space. The interior of the home took a full year to complete.

The original design contained a whopping 13 shipping containers. Ultimately, the final design included only three high-cube storage containers. Each intermodal container stands at 9'6", offering high ceilings with light, flowy space for each floor of the house.

sc_house_stack📸: Carl Cassell

The containers were fabricated and built-out offsite with Storstac, inc. They used a spray-foam insulation inside as a thermal barrier before assembling them, and Blueskin as a moisture control system after they were placed. 

blueskin_carl_cassell📸: Carl Cassell

The space is located in a small but lively alleyway, and there were many challenges, including navigating complicated existing infrastructure-- they went through seven crane operators before they could find one willing to do the work!

The day of assembly was an exciting one; the entire neighborhood gathered to see the home come together. In total, the placement and securing of the containers took only three hours; this is a testament to how efficient it is to use modular construction when building your home. 

container_drop_carl_cassell📸: Carl Cassell

The build added 2800 sq. ft. of living space. On the ground floor is the restaurant. The second floor is the living room and kitchen area plus a bathroom. The third floor has all of the bedrooms and two more bathrooms. 

bedroom_noah_ganhao📸: Noah Ganhao for Luso Life

Each floor has a patio built from the original doors on the containers. Additionally, the home features a rooftop lounge. 

harlem-underground03📸: Noah Ganhao for Luso Life

Since the closing of the restaurant, the Cassell family has expressed interest in using the space as a gallery and allowing the home to become a living piece of art. 

sc_house_art_carl_cassell📸: Carl Cassell

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Written by Container Guru / December 11, 2020

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