Living in a Beautiful Shipping Container Home in the City

hey everyone in this video we're visiting the first shipping container home in Toronto Canada it's a stunning space inside and out and we're really excited to show you around and show you how it was built the homeowners Anna and Karl were looking for a home for their growing family but because of Toronto's inflated real-estate prices they decided to build a home above the restaurant that they already owned on Queen Street West they came up with a plan to float part of the house above the restaurant using pillars and to modify 3 used shipping containers off-site so they could be installed quickly in just a few hours Karl designed built and finished most of this beautiful home himself including a lot of the welding which helped them save even more money on the build so let's go meet up with Anna and Karl to find out more Carl's from Jamaica I'm Portuguese and in both those countries containers get used quite a bit so we had been seeing containers being used for years and you know we wondered why it hadn't happened in Toronto yet and we really wanted to explore this is the first container house in Toronto which means we didn't have to jump through some hula hoops to get here took about six years of paperwork from like when we started drawing out the design permit to a lot and three years from the moment we started digging like actual breaking the ground to moving in we already owned this building but it was just the restaurant it was cheaper because Carl did most of the work and because the price of the house is around here are so high for us though more than the price tag was the dream of building our home from scratch we just didn't think that we could do it in downtown Toronto you know tour has been open towards that kind of cities like a lot can happen here there's some gaps in the building codes that allows you to build to the line of the building and we realized we could do this the question was how do we do it you know how do we have this huge renovation and you add 2,800 square feet or not close the restaurant for an indefinite period and then quite potentially go out of business hey you know I'm saying it's like how do you do that we're like okay let's just frame out an exoskeleton above the restaurant and drop them onto it like construct everything somewhere else and then bring it in back it into the alley and drop them one by one and there's issue of wires and Rogers wires and bail lines and likewise this is crazy but yeah right it's a very busy alley – yeah it gets used a lot like I went you literally like seven crane operators before I found one crazy enough to do it and this guy came two guys and a bunch of honey signals and they were awesome and all the neighbors came to watch it was like a party they came to watch and it was great yeah really well in three hours they dropped them in three hours which really does say a lot about what can be done like if you know we had so many restrictions building above a business building in this tiny space in the back alley on Queen Street but if you can think about taking containers modifying them doing as much as possible off-site and then just actually bringing them in and plopping them down another piece of land like that's what is amazing about shipping containers originally the design was using 13 containers but then we realized that that wasn't feasible it was gonna cost a lot of money so we had to change our design to still use the containers but I only use three and then do the rest to conventional built to tie it into the containers we use high cubes high qzv about you know nine foot six ceilings right so it was really high and that's a great way to create that airy feeling right it's just having the extra high containers so the house is two stories upper level so the ground floor is where the restaurant is then we come up and we have our living room kitchen area which also doubles as a yoga studio because I teach yoga here during the day so it's all done so that everything moves out of the way and we have lots of space also lots of space for five children and then upstairs we have the bedrooms we also have a bathroom in the main floor and do the bathrooms on the top floor our life is kind of a whirlwind around this building it's a busy space there's people in and out all the time but that's kind of how our life has always been except before we had to travel and now we just do it all here which is beautiful because it really does save on a lot of time so it's really nice to be in the neighborhood that we love and just be able to have everything concentrated here so I had the idea of what we were doing right okay I need this cutout and we drew the plans up right so we cut out everything that needed to be cut out we insulated on the side of it because there would be drop once L dropped you can't lift it again to incident so we put spray foam in on the side and all the joist walls on the homicide of all of them so that we wouldn't lose any heat or you put life in floor heated but the walls weren't framed out it was just a can how long did it take to do the interior of the building a year nothing yeah insulating these things are a huge concern Moisture huge concern the fight of these things ever get struck by lightning is a metal box so sitting up there in I mean it's like it has all kinds of legitimate concerns yeah yeah you know we our temperatures vary from plus 42 minus 40 there's a lot of movement in steel and wood you know how you connect steel to would that work to steel and steel the concrete it's like you know I mean it has to take all of these you know all the physics into it my engineer was up for the fun part of it to figure it out you know and we figured it out together a lot of it you know well issues you have with these kind of structures is thermal barriers right wait when entire sheet of steel gets cold you know I mean whatever insulation is be there the gap they need that gap so that it doesn't transfer we had to think that true because very rarely do you find a house that this entire wall as a metal we use wood where we could because wood doesn't transfer cold as much as you know I'm saying the internal frame on that east side is wood but on the west side is metal because it's an exterior wall that needs our fire rated material so all the codes that we have to apply on where the codes went for example one of the things we discovered it was to put blue on the inside of the walls and blue skin it changed the entire equation it's two minutes thick but it just changes the condensation when supplied to the wall but instead of doing other than exterior we did on the interior of the wall it was yeah it was a bit of a nightmare and we don't married my favorite part is our bedroom and my yoga nook and the balcony I love it I've got a flowers and it's just so beautiful I make my coffee and then go back to bed when I can just sit there and look at it all it's just peaceful and beautiful and when all the kids are running around I can sometimes escape lock the door and just my favorite part of the house is the roof it was always to take advantage of the view and I still haven't built that yet you know but when that is finished yeah it's gonna be dope space it's a very rare thing anyone gets to do these days is to build your home from the ground up and it's been an honor to build this thing we first heard about this project a couple of years ago when we met up with Anthony from story stack they actually modified the containers for Carl and Anna's house and if you're interested in learning more about building with containers definitely check out the video that we made with them I'll link to it in the description below if you like this video please share it be sure to subscribe and thanks for watching

The Black Star is Toronto’s first shipping container home, designed and built by Carl and Ana. It’s a hybrid structure with three used shipping containers forming one half of the house, and the other half is a conventional build, but it’s floating above the restaurant that the couple own, using pillars to support it.

Our video about building homes with shipping containers:

This build turned out beautifully and we loved checking out the interior and exterior design. We also chatted quite a bit with Carl and Ana about the process of building this home, and the advantages and challenges of building a house using containers.

They say the biggest challenges were insulating the containers, connecting them to another structure, and finding a way to drop them between two buildings and from a narrow alley way.

To see more photos of the build, check out Carl’s website:

To find out more about Ana’s yoga classes, check out Beleza Yoga:

The Harlem Underground Restaurant:

The containers in this video were modified by Storstac:

Thanks for watching!

Mat & Danielle


Facebook: /exploringalternativesblog
Instagram: @exploringalternatives


We want our channel and our comments section to be an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome to watch and to contribute. For this reason, comments that are inappropriate or hateful will be reported and/or deleted.

Please discuss and debate with respect, and report inappropriate or hateful comments directly to YouTube.

Thank you to our subtitle and closed captions contributors!
If you would like to contribute subtitles or closed captions to an Exploring Alternatives video, please click here to see which ones need your help:

If you have any questions about adding subtitles and closed captions, please email us at [email protected]


We occasionally include paid sponsor messages/integrations in our videos to help fund the channel. We do our best to work with companies and organizations that offer products or services that are in line with our values, and that we think would be interesting and useful to you, our viewers.

We will always disclose if we’re promoting products that were given to us for free, or if we’re including a sponsored message in a video.

For business or sponsorship inquiries, please email us at [email protected]


Music & Song Credits:
All music in this video was composed, performed, and recorded by Mat of Exploring Alternatives.

Editing Credits:
Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives

Filming Credits:
Video filmed by Mat of Exploring Alternatives

Drone footage provided by Storstac:

Timelapse filmed by Susie Jaroszewska

Photos of the build provided by Carl and Ana:

50 comments on “Living in a Beautiful Shipping Container Home in the City

  1. Mamie Njie

    Karl you can closed the resturant and become a millioner in Africa .There is no container house in the Gambia if you are willing to go start the buisness let me know and I will give you the contact to called

  2. Unpaved

    I just saw you both in Nelson BC at the Kootenay Coop. I did not want to be the fan that came up and bothered you while you were shopping. Nice to see you. I hope you enjoyed our wonderful little city? The Coop is quite the store hey? If you need a place to park/camp we live on 4 acres 25min from town you are welcome. Take care.

  3. Meghan Borges

    Everytime I watch another alternative living video I find myself more and more inspired. This home is just unique and intriguing. It is an inspiration to me everything out of containers just AMAZING, LOVE IT!!!

  4. 꽃쀑년 Shining Midlife

    μ½˜ν…Œμ΄λ„ˆλ‘œ 집을 λ§Œλ“œλŠ” μ˜μƒμ„ 많이 λ³΄μ•˜λŠ”λ°,
    이 λΉ„λ””μ˜€λŠ” μ•„μ£Ό λ©‹μ§‘λ‹ˆλ‹€.
    λ‚˜λŠ” μ„œμšΈμ—μ„œ 집을 지어봀기 λ•Œλ¬Έμ— 이런 μ˜μƒμ— κ΄€νž˜μ΄ 많죠.
    곡간도 λ„‰λ„‰ν•˜κ³  μ‹¬ν”Œν•΄μ„œ λ§ˆμŒμ— λ“€μ–΄μš”.
    I've seen a lot of videos of making houses out of containers,
    This video is very cool.
    I'm very interested in these videos because I built a house in Seoul.
    I love the space and the simplicity.

  5. Francis Lim

    For many things and projects to work we need positive thinking Councils,Mayors and Government,most of the times these red indians chiefs makes life difficult for some suspiciously unknown reasons,red tapes and reluctance.Many effective modern methods for building like LEGO types slabs,concrete,recycled plastics etc cheap and fast to establish are being sidelined to protect existing businesses .

  6. Romerick Jover

    I'm kept on seeing this post about shipping containers are bad because of the chemicals that present in them, so can someone please tell me is it safe or not? Can it be prevented or neutralise? I want one but this post is making me having second thoughts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *