Category Archives: Architecture

2011 Process

Time flies..  I can not believe how quickly time passes.  Anyway, here are some more process photos of the Holyoke cabin.

Once the floor had a coat of finish on it we went ahead and cut some openings into the blue container.  This one is for the kitchen.


We then framed the interior out (walls and ceiling), insulated with rigid foam (2″ in the walls and 4″ in the ceiling) and added a vapor barrier for extra protection.  You can see we have also added some wiring for the low voltage lighting.IMG_0229 IMG_0228With framing complete we clad the entire framed areas with birch veneer plywood.  We pre-finished this at home during the week to keep things moving along on the weekends..
P1000520By the end of 2011 we had all the interior clad and had started setting kitchen cabinets.  We used the old propane range in the kitchen, this came out of the original travel trailer we had long ago vacated.  It cleaned up quite well and still works like a charm.

P1000527 P1000529The next post we will cover more interior finishing.


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ReadyMade Photo Shoot

On Monday January 21, 2008 my brother, Jackson (gsp) and myself had a photo shoot at the cabin for the magazine ReadyMade.  The high temp Monday was somewhere around 5º F. Really, really cold.  The driveway was only plowed to the gate so we had to bring everything needed in on sled the rest of the way, about 1/2 of mile through about two feet of sugar snow.

The loll guys Greg, Nate and Frank (spaniel)  joined us and brought some furniture along to spruce up the space.

We shared some beers while trying to stay warm.

We had a good time and wrapped it all up around 6:30.

Watch the March 2008 issue for a little story and a photo or two…

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More History

To start Sarah and I welded up the frame, sashes and jamb.  Then the following week we added the finer details like hinges, hardware and paint.  So last week we finally did it.  We cut the hole.  It seemed like this day was never going to come and when it did we were apprehensive to do it.  It is hard to cut a hole in something so pure knowing that there is no looking back.  So after many iterations of measuring and marking and making certain “this is where we want it” we jumped in.  Like everything else the actual cut was simple and anti-climatic. ImageImage

 Once the cut was complete, wow!  completely transformed the space on the interior and the exterior seems to come alive.ImageImageImage

After sitting and staring at the new hole we had to get back to work as the rain was coming….  Prepped the new opening and fitted the window assembly and began welding.


Once all the welding was complete we primed the whole deal.  No sooner did the primer dry did it start to rain.  Anxious to complete the project that weekend we tented the window off, dried everything and continued to paint.

ImageWe had to leave the tent up overnight as it was too humid for the paint to dry and the rain never stopped…

Sunday morning came and we took down the tent and masking and installed the sashes.  After a long day on Saturday it was nice to see the progress complete.


Up next, framing the interior of Red….

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Holyoke Cabin History

We had this posted on our Hive Modular site a while back but since have shut that site down.  Anyway here is a quick re-hash..

My father and his brother bought the property for hunting in 1970.  The purchase consisted of (2) 20-acre lots split between the two of them.  More recently we began leasing an adjacent 139 acres.  The land is about two hours North of the Twin Cities in a very small community called Holyoke. The land has several ravines and hills with equal amounts of fields and prairie.  Hunting was my father’s and uncle’s original intention for the land.  As my cousins, brother and I grew up the land started to take on different uses for all of us.  At a young age we all started riding motocross bikes, creating trails, jumps and tracks.  Once we got a little older the land was too small for the bikes we were riding and the kind of riding we were interested in, we used the land as a home base for all the single track in the area.  More recently we have been slowly restoring and rehabbing the land to bring it back to a natural state, we still have bikes though but with the construction of the cabin and everything else we have little time to get out and enjoy.  I will save the topic riding for another post.

Since my father’s passing in the early 90’s my brother Scott Stankey, his wife Krista, my wife Sarah Nordby (girlfriend at the time) and I decided to build a new cabin/weekend home as the 1940’s trailer home is literally falling apart and being taken over by nature.  The trailer was very cool, all birch interior with nice built-ins, but time took its toll.  We started researching different building methods and materials with the focus on reuse and longevity as the budget was nonexistent and we wanted it to last.  We also were looking at solutions that would be able to handle the wild seasonal changes and the intolerable rodent problem.  Sarah (girlfriend at the time) and I lived near a train yard with stacks and stacks of shipping containers.  As we would talk we could not help think of the possibility of shipping containers for a structure.  I started looking into the purchase of a container and realized how affordable it could be.  So once the initial research was completed I approached my brother with the idea.  He was intrigued and we pursued it further.  I started doing some drawings and some space analysis of what will actually work in an 8’ space. and running them past everyone and Scott called around and found two 20’ used containers for $800 each.  Before the design could be completely hammered out we needed to solidify what we really needed in the cabin.  We came up with a rough program consisting of really just rooms, we were not really concerned about size too much as we were coming out of an old trailer.  The program we came up with for the cabin was to include a kitchen, dining room, living room, wash and clothes area, and two queen beds.

Once we all decided this is the way we wanted to go and had a pretty good idea of what this was going to look like we had to come up with a way to get them from Minneapolis to Holyoke.  At the time I had a beat up Ford diesel truck that I thought could do it. I rented a flatbed trailer and met my brother at the train yard.  We loaded up the first box and made our way up.  My bother followed me in his truck running defense in traffic.  We made it up in one piece and with little trouble.  Once on the property we needed to unload the 5000-pound box.  We first tried to pull the container off the trailer by me pulling forward and with my brother’s truck pulling the container other direction; this resulted in my truck pulling my brothers. We then devised a system using heavy gauge pipe and a rope.  We jacked up the boxes high enough to get the pipes between the bed of the trailer and the bottom of the container.  Once we had about 15 pipes under the full length we tied the container to my brothers truck again but left his truck in park with the handbrake engaged.  I started my truck and proceeded to drive forward thus pulling the trailer out from under the container.  This resulted in a loud noise but a successful drop.  The second container was a snap as most of the details were worked out after dealing with the first one.

Once we decided on the exact location we rented an excavator and dug the footings.  The following weekend Sarah, Scott and I formed, mixed and poured the footings and piers.Image

Two weeks after we began the process of moving the containers on to the piers.  We aligned the containers Image with the pier locations and jacked them up on used railroad ties.  Once the containers we cribbed up to the appropriate height and aligned with the piers we used the same techniques we used to get the containers off the trailer.Image

We attached one end of a come-along to a tree and the other to one of the containers.  Under the containers we used the pipes as wheels again and slowly moved them into place.Image

We moved a container a weekend.  Once they were in place we removed the cribbing and welded them into place.  From there the rest is pretty self-explanatory..ImageImageImage

A couple things to note about the whole process and the current state; we have no electricity, we used a generator or hand power, and we have no running water so mixing concrete was achieved by pumping water from our creek 1/4 mile away and trucking it to the build site and mixing in an electric mixer powered by a generator.  All windows and hardware were homemade; we set the insulated glass into frames we welded on-site.Image

When complete the interior walls and ceilings will be finished in birch plywood, to match the trailer’s original feel and look.  We will have a full 12v lighting system with a gas light back up.  The 12v system will be replenished via a small array of PV’s.  The downspout will be hooked up to a cistern to collect all rain from roof.  This will supply us with a gray-water system.


I will continue to update this project as we pass major steps in the process.


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Exotic Architecture #4

Follow up from the last post on our newest design – a disaster response – is a quick post on the INFO Box by Schneider + Schumacher Architekten.  INFO Box was a temporary structure built in 1995 in the historic Postdamer Platz, which had been completely destroyed during the war and left as a vacant zone during the Cold War period.  Following the dismantling of The Wall and the rebuilding of this once vibrant cultural point, INFO Box became a temporary structure intended to educate the masses on the rebuilding effort.  This light structure barely touching the ground and quickly built in three months acted an information center providing views of construction sites, as well as, a variety of multimedia educational booths informing the public on what would become of Potsdamer Platz.

Effectively a band aid covering the cities wound, INFO Box was eventaully taken down in 2001 once reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz was complete.  Interestingly this structure seems to imbue many of the features of the Antarctic Research stations we’ve mentioned before.


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Introducing Unit 0322

For a while now, we at InterModal Design have been working on a form of relief housing which would not only address short term issues, but also provide a plan for stabile long term growth.  Unit 0322 came about following the earthquake disaster in Chile, in which many lower and middle class homes were destroyed by a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake.  We were contacted to produce a formal proposal which would provide relief housing on a massive scale in a very short period of time.  Shipping containers seemed like the best solution: readily available and durable shelters which could not only arrive on site within weeks, but could provide the necessary protection from the looming winter months and inclement weather in Chile.

But, we also had our eyes on the future.  0322 is more than just a means of providing protection; it is also a way of building communities.  Once initial needs are met, such as providing a safe shelter, the home owners can personalize their containers at their own pace and budget – adding a window here or there, painting the interior and eventually purchasing the simple affordable exterior cladding and pitched roof we’ve designed.  The concept is to provide stabile growth and allow the home owners to transform the container into their home.  After all, we recognize that not everyone wants to feel like they live in a container.

For more plans, photos, and an informational pdf on unit 0322 check out our website.

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Exotic Architecture #3

Richard Rogers may be more well known for his sense of style than as the inspiration of the current generation of Antarctic structures.  However, having perused a fantastic book on modular construction, I stumbled upon Richard and Su Rogers Zip-Up Enclosures No 1 and 2 and immediately thought of those small stations stubbornly surviving in the harsh climate.  These high tech Zip Up Enclosures were intended to replace housing as we know it.  The frame of each structure would consist of several panels comprised of hybrid plastics, rubber and PVC.  The idea being the skin could act as its own structural support, similar to the system in cars and certain mobile homes.  People could buy the necessary amount of panels and zip them into the existing pieces, creating a home fit perfectly to their needs.  Further, the structure could adapt to any site as the support stilts could be jacked up accordingly.  Sound familiar? That’s because it’s very similar to the techniques being employed on Halley VI and other Antarctic research stations (as previously mentioned here).  Not to mention, Rogers even nailed the aesthetic of current space age looking stations such as the South African station and newly built French and Italian research station.  Though admittedly, Zip Up Enclosures retain Richard’s appreciation for bold gaudy colors, something the research stations haven’t employed yet.  After all, what better way to find a station then look for the eye popping yellow and pink tube, jutting out of a landscape of white.

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