By: Johnny Hartsfield

Our friends over at HyBrid Architecture and Assembly are, as we speak, craning into place Seattle’s first cargo container buildings.  Here is their official press release.


“Cargotecture” by HyBrid Architecture is an affordable, sustainable and modular alternative to traditional construction

SEATTLE, WA – June 18, 2009 – Seattle-based HyBrid Architecture announces the assembly of Seattle’s first buildings constructed of recycled cargo containers in the Design District of the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle on Thursday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The two buildings are the future home of office space and a retail showroom gallery for a local interior design firm.  While the modules will be craned in place on Thursday they represent the structure of the buildings only. Interior finishes, insulation, kitted parts, and utilities will be installed on site for opening in Fall.

The container building system, which HyBrid has coined “cargotecture”, is an affordable and sustainable alternative to traditional site construction. This particular project features two three-story buildings structurally based on 12 cargo containers, providing about 7,200 square feet on this 7,000 square foot lot.

The project’s hard costs represent a reduction of 20% to 40% compared to typical commercial construction costs, and HyBrid introduced a variety of building components and specialty envelope sections to make the project energy efficient for reduced lifetime operating costs. The buildings feature a green roof and sustainable landscaping, recycled materials and habitat restoration.

“Given these turbulent economic times and the desire for more sustainable buildings, cargotecture is a unique way to build affordable, modern and green,” said Joel Egan, principal of HyBrid Architecture.

“The buildings can also be picked up and moved to a different site which has definite advantages in the current market.”

HyBrid’s design for the project incorporates double-height galleries that are filled with natural light. The container is exposed throughout the interior spaces allowing for references to the life, travel and visceral impact of this symbol of the global economy. The project uses materials such as steel, plywood, concrete and glass that reflect Georgetown’s industrial nature.

The containers will be transported into a new natural lush environment — a contrast from the grit and bustle of their previous seaport existence. The site has been remediated with long term sustainability in mind and incorporates new constructed wetlands into the property. In addition, recycled container parts from this project will be integrated into the landscape as fences and other features.

Georgetown Cargotecture Showroom Gallery Features


  • Recycled Cargo Containers (12)
  • Steel construction which is highly resistant to storms and seismic events
  • Efficient Air Handling system
  • Excellent Daylighting from high windows and glazed doors
  • Energy controls and operable lighting for electric use on an as-needed basis.
  • Thermally broken wall insulation
  • No use of glues in the project
  • Overinsulated roof using R-46 SIPs rigid foam construction 20% over code
  • Dimmable lighting for as-needed energy use


  • Green roof for habitat, water collection, reduction of heat island effect, better building insulation, and acoustic insulation against low flying planes in this area
  • Landscape features using scraps from the factory conversion of the containers
  • Solar powered exterior lighting on daylight sensors- no light pollution
  • Green ‘wall’ where trellis vines are grown from planters fed from downspouts
  • Permeable pavers
  • Grasscrete vegetated drive aisles
  • Wetlands for migratory birds
  • The waterworks above mean that no expensive water detention tank has been triggered
  • The previous dilapidated houses on the site were completely salvaged and recycled using environmentally responsible practices
  • Hard costs substantially less than typical new commercial construction

HyBrid Architecture + Assembly is an award winning Seattle-based architecture firm and general contracting firm that specializes in the design and assembly of pre-fabricated works constructed from kits, panels, modules, and combinations thereof. More information can be found at, 206.267.9277.