Photographs Francois Oberholster Stylist Marian van Wyk
Axel Ryder and Richard Wood
WHERE Riebeek West, Western Cape
Axel Ryder and Richard Wood’s container home in Riebeek West in the Swartland is a dream come true. But it wasn’t without its fair share of blood, sweat and tears: a container home that fits into a steel frame like a puzzle, and has brickwork here and there to fill in the gaps, requires meticulous planning.
And that’s exactly how these two creative minds tackled their project – with plenty of research and attention to detail.
They began digging the foundations in November 2016 in the most tree-filled section of the large property, which already had two homes on it. Their first obstacle was that the entire project had to be financed with hard cash: “Banks don’t give you a loan if you build with containers,” cautions Axel.
But they were adamant: containers it had to be, especially after seeing similar projects on the British TV show Grand Designs. Fortunately, Axel is a building contractor and was able to do a lot of the work himself, so they saved on costs. Amidst other construction projects, he set aside time to help shape their home while Richard, who runs a beauty salon on the same premises, came up with the ideas. On 1 June last year, they moved in – just over a year and a half after the first sod was turned.
Richard and Axel both have an eye for detail. They describe their style as eclectic, and they love to browse second-hand stores, car boot sales and markets.
Colour plays an important role throughout their home, something that is best illustrated by the ‘touch-ups’ on the outside of the container where weak spots were welded and covered with cheerful neon-green paint. This was left as is to emphasise the fact that containers with history had been used in this passion project. “We think out of the box; pardon the pun,” says Richard with a grin.
Another indication of their playful approach is an old spade that now serves as part of a water feature next to the front door.
Richard and Axel have artistic sensibilities, as can be seen in the exquisite décor chosen for each room. Every piece of furniture and accessory has its own story and combined they tell a tale of good taste and patient planning. Almost everything has been recycled from a previous building project and refurbished with sandpaper and varnish.
For many years, Axel and Richard nurtured the idea of building a container home. Luck was on their side when they heard about four containers going for a song – at last planning could start in earnest!
When asked about who they approached for advice, their immediate response was: “We asked everyone we could.” The framework for the structure is steel with five containers (one more had to be acquired) that fit snugly inside – three below and two on top. The bottom three containers rest on a concrete floor into which the steel columns were planted for the frame. Two 12 m-long containers, each 2.34 m wide, make up the kitchen and TV lounge. These stand side by side with a combined surface area of almost 56 m².
About 7 m away there’s a smaller, 6 m-long container situated parallel to the first two and furnished as a guest suite. The space between the kitchen section and the guest bedroom is enclosed and now forms a spacious living room that opens out to the front and back with large glass doors.
Two of the larger containers rest horizontally across the bottom three; together they make up the main bedroom en suite. A study was added on the same level above the kitchen.
AD Goedhart 082 643 4332
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