It was sunny afternoon in late September with a light east wind and blooming asters. That day our main destination was Vagonke (yeah, that‘s pretty funky name) – a cozy, almost self-made living container somewhere a bit out of Vilnius, Lithuania. Less than a year old uncoventional house is a sweet dream getaway of Zilinskai family.
Meet the lovely trio – the architect Vytenis, his wife Kotryna – the graphic designer and the writer, and their little baby daughter Ula, who already can boast about her stylish Vans shoes.
↑ Vytenis, Kotryna and Ula are waiting for the right second / Photo taken with large-format film camera
↓ We found something in common with Ula. Vans!
The Inception //
There were plenty of reasons why they decided to build a container house. The first impetus was due to their current living place – a flat in the city center of Vilnius. Location for a working days is just perfect, but not suited to relax well and stay calm for a while.
Thus, Kotryna turned to seek for old homesteads, but soon they had realised that they actually have only two options: to invest a lot in order to live there after, or to demolish everything and build anew.
The conception of Vangonke had way more to offer. Firstly, it is a great solution for those who are under the budget – you won‘t need to restore some old house. Secondly, there is a possibility to enlarge it (to add an additional module) if needed. And thirdly, relatively you are not depended on any place, you can move it everywhere.
↑ ↓ Vagonke and the terrace / Photo taken with large-format camera
The Installation //
So they ordered it. Yes, they did not renovate the old shipping container, it was produced by order according to family‘s parameters and wishes. The new shipping containers are pretty expensive, whereas old shipping containers require long restauration process due to the rust removal. Furthermore, shipping containers‘ ceilings are bit lower.
It took around 10 months from the inception of the idea to complete installation. Vytenis is the architect, so the whole installation process turned way easier and faster, bearing in mind that he came up with various solutions to install and equip like convenient home alone by himself.
Family‘s friends praised them for having such a convenient escape house, because it is not that common to install all utilities in little homesteads. The electricity is powered by accumulator and the solar heat is used to warm the solar camp shower. There is also a small fireplace which works like a boiler. Only one deck can warm up the whole shelter for a few hours.
12 square meters are completely enough for bendroom, living room, kitchen (with a sink and running water!), pantry and bio toilet.
Family did not want to invest too much for interior details, because you will never know what can happen. Due to this concern, all basic, non-characterictic furniture was bought from IKEA, which is probably the most convenient place to shop regarding budget and style. To avoid IKEA catalogue cover image, all characteristic stuff was made by themselves or made by order like lamp, cupboard hangers, worktop.
↑ Vytenis’s trophy made of paper
Advantages and Disadvantages //
The biggest pros of this house are the freedom of not having a large plot of the land, money to build it and the possibility to expand the segment constantly, both vertically or horizontally. And finally it‘s just fun! “Let‘s go to Vagonke” – they say and leave the antropocene.
The biggest concern is the security. Wheather the container is build somewhere out of the living area, it‘s better to invest in house protection. House insurance might also be a problem, because insurance companies do not insure the real estate without foundation or property without strict address.
The Happiness //
Can happiness fit into container of 12 square meters? Yes, because they already have there anything they need and they love small spaces. As family claim, just because of the smallness of the house and window wall you can feel like inside and outside blends together, it creates an illusion that the space is expanded.
Their happiness comes after their small wants. Kotryna strongly believes that human happiness is directly dependent on how small their wants are. The smaller the wants are, the easier to satisfy them. And when you are satisfied your wants, you are happy. One struggles to have more, because somebody has something already, that we do not have.
To end up //
It seems that happiness can be shared.
The first place where they had located the living container was a plain field. Family wanted to get acquainted with some neighbors around. Once Kotryna saw an old man passing by with a stick, she immediately stopped him and asked where he lives. The old man said in the forest or here, and pointed to their house. He‘s Ukrainian, named Victor, who was working for some family, but unfortunately was thrown out.
The point is that, that the container was slightly raised, so there was some space, thus Victor was able to live down there for several months during the summer. He even kept his goats around.
As Kotryna said, is like the whole ecosystem, after something occurs, then something is joining it. That‘s how the Nature works.
And seemed like everybody was happy.