How Can I Design a Cargotecture Home For Ghana, Tackling Sustainability In An Affordable Manner?


It is rare in Ghana to come across a sustainable house, or even just a house that’s designed to be more eco-friendly than the average home. Ghana emitted 59 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2011, which is a huge amount considering that it isn’t a very large, or densely populated country. There is so much potential for eco-friendly homes in Ghana, for example cargotecture. Shipping containers are extremely common as there’s a big port in Ghana. They are so readily available that even some locals manage to get hold of them and settle inside of them as homes, or turn them into a small shop on the roadside. None of them are ever properly accommodated, and my project would consist of designing a cargotecture house. Additionally, homes in Ghana are extremely expensive for no reason and it’s hard to come across a nice house for a good price. The aim is to create a design that is sustainable, eco-friendly, minimal cost, and gives the best return on investment.


The users of this site would be any single or partnered person who is willing to change their impact on the environment, and live in a sustainable home costing much less. 



A primary need for the users, would be a home that accommodates multiple people and includes all house functions and necessities. Also, it must be sustainable, therefore the house will mostly be made up of accommodated shipping containers that are repurposed to become a house. The house will include systems like reusable energy, and rain water harvesting in order to reduce the house’s carbon footprint. The house must have minimal cost, and materials and procedures that will not cause for the construction to be expensive.

Above is a bubble diagram of my needs and the layout



Specific materials will need to be used, for example the shipping containers along with the cladding and sliding for the outside of the shipping containers. A lot of glass would be used in order to maximize the use of natural light coming from the sun. The house will include several types of circulation through space for example the different forms of space, the configuration of the path, and the entrance.

This is my most significant inspiration to my design.


For the design, I kept in mind that the most essential part was to utilize space efficiently so I could keep it sustainable and affordable. 

I decided to split the single 40 feet container like this:

  • Central area
    • Living room
    • Dining area
    • Kitchenette
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom

Design Process

This is the floor plan I initially sketched for the house design
An image of the process of designing with SketchUp
A 3-D model made of paper

Final Design

A view of the house from another vantage point
A view from the top with a look on the inside

Some additional features that would be included but cannot be seen are a rain-water harvesting system, composting toilet, run off water from sink or shower to flush toilets, and the house would be almost entirely solar powered with a backup generator.

Please feel free to leave any feedback, comments, or questions, in the comments section. Click on the hyperlinks to view my citations, and/or my Catalyst Project document.

Share this project
  1. April 20, 2020 by Lisa Thompson

    Your presentation looks wonderful with the text, movie, drawings, 3-d renderings, and photo of 3-D model. Your project is artful and meaningful because it is very connected to environmental issues within the context of lovely Ghana. It’s nice how you have even thought about a rain-water harvesting system and solar power. Thank you for sharing this with us. Congratulations!

  2. April 21, 2020 by Grace Corey

    Hey Mathieu! I like how your house uses elements available in Ghana to help improve living conditions and serves a cause, but is also modern-looking on the inside. I’ve seen different models of houses built inside shipping containers, but I have never seen one as simple, but elegant as this one. It seems like you put many hours of effort into creating this final project. I really enjoyed the project overall, and think you did a great job!

  3. April 23, 2020 by Matt Neely

    Mathieu (also my name). Yours is the first project I have viewed and I am so impressed. I love that you took an interest in West Africa and integrated so many “disciplines.” Bravo!

  4. April 24, 2020 by Megan

    Great job Mathieu. You’re introduction and background information on Ghana was very moving, especially because I have never before heard of their environmental sustainability issues. I loved seeing the process of you creating this sustainable living space, and how it turned from being on paper into an editing app. What software/app did you use? I think this is such an important topic because as climate change is becoming more serious as every day passes, this can be a way to combat using materials harmful to the earth. I also think it was really cool how you showed your main source of inspiration, it’s so amazing that these ideas are being implemented in some places.

  5. April 24, 2020 by Ahmad Rasheed

    Nice work Mathieu! It is great that you thought of cheap sustainable homes in Ghana considering the pollution which you see. I love that you used one shipping container as a home and made it all work well. I myself had considered using shipping containers for my maker space but I was not able to use them efficiently and make it look nice. You did! Great Job!

  6. April 25, 2020 by Fay Aljasem

    Hello Mathieu, I really enjoyed looking at your project. I really love how your project really tackled a big issue such as this. I also really love that your project not only provided a good solution, but it also spread awareness and really brought those issues to light. I liked looking at your models, it was great how you made a physical and a digital one.

  7. April 25, 2020 by Taggert Smith

    Hey Mathieu, it’s clear to see the passion you have for sustainable architecture and improving your community. The use of “cargotecture” to contain the design (no pun intended) and ensure its affordability was a smart move (and it also ensures a smaller environmental impact). I love the aesthetics of your design and I think you did well win using your limited space efficiently and including everything you would want in a cargotecture home. Great work!

  8. April 26, 2020 by Cole

    Great job Mathieu! I like how well you showed the process you went through in your design and the inspiration you took. The key in your sketches really help me understand your purpose and design. It’s impressive how much you reiterated your design: creating a sketchUp and physical model, only to improve and change your design. I also like how well you tackled this challenge and the sustainability features you added.

  9. April 26, 2020 by Caroline W

    I like the solution, and I think what you described would work really well. I am impressed that you managed to fit the whole space quite nicely into the container and only used one.

  10. April 26, 2020 by Gladys Adinyira Wuaku

    Wow. I’m impressed !
    I hope that this idea could be adopted by some group of people to help in housing a lot more people, getting them off the streets and under our bridges.

    Congratulations ! . Ms Gladys

  11. April 26, 2020 by Spencer Kamens

    You have a great project! You can really see how you developed your ideas throughout this process. I think this is such an interesting and great topic. I think you did a really great job! Congrats!

  12. April 27, 2020 by Rojan Naimi

    Hi Mathieu! Seeing your project develop from the beginning, I am really impressed with the final design. I really like how you utilized and embraced the space the shipping container provided for you, and how you worked with the lengthiness of it. The layout of your house is really great and it’s so cool how you managed to fit everything in the space. Great work!

  13. April 27, 2020 by Daniel

    I enjoyed your website and the work you put into this project. The environment of Ghana was unique and I did not expect this kind of variety in the architecture projects. The reasoning and explanation were also well written.

  14. April 27, 2020 by Mais

    Hi Mathieu, I think that your project was very thoughtful and creative. You were really able to find an efficient way to create homes that will ultimately help a lot of people. I think that this design could also be applicable to a lot of other places in the world, and ultimately help a lot more people, which is why I think it’s so great. Well done!

  15. April 27, 2020 by Richard

    Hi, Mathieu, when I first heard your idea from the class, I was already interested in it. I like the way you think about people’s basic needs in daily lives and try to meet those needs with your design. Your final design on sketch up looks great!!!

  16. April 28, 2020 by Sarah Rose

    Hey Mathieu, you did a wonderful job with this design. I think it’s so creative to use excess materials in your community to help fill the gap and create affordable houses. It promotes recycling, sustainability, and good community values. I also really admire how you prioritized comfort and aesthetics as well to create a home, and this must have been especially challenging considering you were working with a large metal crate. Amazing job!

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