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Inside a container house

Fabricated Containers in Kenya: Dimensions & Carrying Capacity

Kenyans are quickly embracing innovative and purposeful technologies, and container fabrication has emerged as a major trend shaping the construction sector over the past decade.

Naturally, new trends often bring questions that need answering.

By addressing these concerns, we aim to not only enhance the value of your investment plan but also ensure it aligns with your goals and achieves success.

Today, we’ll focus on answering queries related to the interiors of fabricated container structures, particularly their measurements and spatial specifications.

The interior space of refurbished containers offers remarkable flexibility, allowing for diverse arrangement styles and designs.

A 40Ft High Cube Shipping Container awaits fabrication at Premium Containers premises.

We’ll present the most commonly used standard measurements and arrangements.

Globally, shipping containers are standardized according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Here are the standard sizes and weights:

Container Dimensions & Weights
Container TypeDimensionsWeight
40Ft High Cube Container40Ft Long x 8Ft Wide x 9.6Ft High4,200 Kgs or 4.2 metric tones
40Ft Low Cube Container40Ft Long x 8Ft Wide x 8.6Ft High3,800 Kgs or 3.8 metric tones
20Ft High Cube Container20Ft Long x 8Ft Wide x 9.6Ft High2,200 Kgs or 2.2 metric tones
20Ft Standard Container20Ft Long x 8Ft Wide x 8.6Ft High1,800 Kgs or 1.8 metric tones

Therefore, it’s crucial to address some frequently asked questions concerning the interior design of container structures, including the number of occupants a container classroom can hold and the appropriate chair size for a three-bedroom container home.

Container Houses: Measurements and Arrangements

Container houses offer a wide range of possibilities, from simple and minimalistic designs to complex and expansive structures.

You can choose from various layouts, including bedsitter/studio units, one-, two-, or three-bedroom units, and more.

Container house layout
3D Layout for a Three Bedrooms Container House

In terms of arrangement, containers can be used individually, joined side-by-side, or stacked to create multiple floors.

This flexibility allows for first, second, third, and even fourth floors.

Every container house, regardless of size, should include essential spaces like a kitchen, living room, bedroom(s), and a bathroom.

Complex designs may incorporate additional rooms like a dining room, pantry, library, gym, home office, storage, verandah, and foyer.

Before exploring further, let’s break down common container sizes and the types of houses they can accommodate.

Type of Container HouseContainer SizeNumber of People
Bedsitter/Studio UnitOne 20Ft ContainerUsually 1, Maximum of 2. A couple can stay here.
One Bedroom HouseOne 40Ft ContainerUsually 1, Maximum of 3. A couple and a child can stay here. More spacious for more items/materials/activities.
Two Bedrooms HouseOne 40Ft Container orCombined 20Ft & 40Ft Containers orTwo 40Ft Containers6 People (A couple with 4 children). The children’s bedrooms can take 2 double-deck beds.
Three Bedrooms HouseTwo 40Ft Containers10 People. The two children’s bedrooms can take 4 double-deck beds.  

The Kitchen: Heart of the Home

The kitchen is arguably the most used and noticeable space in any house.

While sizes and dimensions can vary based on personal preferences, let’s explore some standard measurements to guide your planning.

Container kitchen interior
Kitchen inside of a container house, Kitengela.

Kitchen Configurations in a Container House

  • Single-cook kitchens: Designed for one person, with layout and elements optimized for solo use.
  • Multiple-cook kitchens: Designed for two or more people, offering wider workspaces and multiple access points.

The various elements for Kitchen Layout in a Container Home are highlighted below;

  1. Lower Kitchen Cabinets: Typically, 2ft (60cm) deep and 3ft (90cm) high. They provide storage for cookware, appliances, and pantry staples.
  2. Kitchen Countertop: Usually placed atop the lower cabinets, this workspace is made of durable materials like wood, ceramic, or granite. 

It often houses the sink and faucet, with the depth influenced by appliances used.

  1. Upper Kitchen Cabinets: These provide additional storage, typically measuring 1.5ft (45cm) deep and 1.5ft (45cm) high. The standard clearance between upper and lower cabinets is 18 inches (45cm), though customization is possible.
  2. Kitchen Sink: Sinks come in various sizes and configurations, including single or double bowls, with or without drainboards. Standard sizes are around 2.5ft (76cm) long x 1.8ft (56cm) wide.
  3. Kitchen Island: This optional freestanding workspace offers additional prep and storage space. Standard dimensions are approximately 3ft (90cm) long x 2ft (60cm) wide.
  4. Kitchen Walkway: The space between the main kitchen and the island should allow for comfortable movement. Standard widths are 3ft (1m) for single-cook and 4ft (1.2m) for multiple-cook kitchens.

Container House: Bathroom Considerations

Bathrooms in homes can be categorized as full, three-quarter, half, or quarter bathrooms, depending on the included fixtures.

Bathroom in a container house
Newly completed container house bathroom, Kyulu Hills.

They can be designed with combined or separate toilet and shower areas, typically intended for single use (although two people might use them simultaneously).

See the following table for details;

 Standard SizeToiletShowerSink/WashbasinBathtub
Full-Bathroom10Ft (3m) Long x 6Ft (1.8m) wideYesYesYesYes (sometimes combined with shower)
Three-Quarter Bathroom8Ft Long (2.4m) x 6Ft (1.8m) wideYesYesYesNo
Half-Bathroom6Ft Long (2.4m) x 5Ft (1.5m) wideYesYesYesNo
Quarter Bathroom6Ft Long (1.8m) x 5Ft (1.5m) wideYesYesSometimes YesNo

Container House Living Rooms: Finding Your Perfect Fit

The living room, acting as a buffer between you and the outside world, becomes a reflection of your personality and tells a story about who you are.

It’s an extension of self, where showcasing your unique style and preferences can boost your sense of self-expression and belonging.

This space should be designed for relaxation, unwinding, and welcoming guests.

Container house living room
The Living Room of our container retirement home project, Gilgil. See the dining area?

In container houses, the living room must accommodate an array of items, including furniture, electronics, decorations, and personal touches like books, plants, paintings, photographs, and even treasured bottles.

While there are no fixed sizes, the table below provides a guide to typical dimensions based on container configurations:

Container HouseSize of Living RoomNumber/Size of Seats
Bedsitter/Studio Unit10Ft (3m) x 8Ft (2.4m)A 3-seater chair
One Bedroom House12Ft (3.6m) x 8Ft (2.4m)1 set of sofas (One 3-seater & two single-seaters) More space for other household items including larger tables
Two Bedrooms HouseFrom One 40Ft (12Ft (3.6m) x 8Ft (2.4m))A 3-seater chair
 From Two 40Ft (20Ft (6m) x 12Ft (3.6m)A complete set of sofas plus 3 or 4 additional armchairs Enough space to for extra household items & activities such as dining area & study
Three Bedrooms HouseFrom Two 40Ft (20Ft (6m) x 12Ft (3.6m)A complete set of sofas plus 3 or 4 additional armchairs Enough space to for extra household items & activities such as dining area & study

Remember, these are just starting points. The flexibility of container design allows you to personalize your living room to perfectly suit your needs and lifestyle.

Consider factors such as:

  • Number of residents: Larger families might require more space for relaxation and socializing.
  • Personal preferences: Do you enjoy regular weekend parties or intimate gatherings?
  • Furniture choices: Oversized couches might necessitate a bigger room.
  • Storage needs: Consider built-in storage or additional shelving units.

With creativity and planning, you can transform your container living room into a haven that reflects your personality and provides the perfect space for relaxation and connection.

Container House Bedrooms: Finding Your Personal Sanctuary

A well-designed bedroom fosters serenity and tranquility, creating the perfect environment for relaxation and unwinding before sleep.

Calming colors, soothing textures, and soft lighting all contribute to this haven.

Container house bedroom
Overhanging wardrobe unit inside the bedroom of a container house, Nanyuki.

In container houses, bedrooms typically measure 10ft (3m) long by 8ft (2.4m) wide.

This provides enough space for two medium-sized beds and an overhanging wardrobe unit, catering to single occupants or couples.

However, it’s important to note that the ideal bedroom size ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences.

Here are some factors to consider when planning your container house bedroom:

1. Desired Capacity

  • Do you need a single occupant room or a multi-person space?
  • Will you have overnight guests frequently?

2. Furniture Choices

  • Do you envision a full-size bed, multiple beds, or other furniture needs?
  • Consider built-in storage or additional shelving units if storage space is limited.

3. Personal Needs

  • Do you require a dedicated workspace or reading nook within the bedroom?
  • Would you prefer extra floor space for exercise or other activities?

Remember, container designs are inherently flexible. You can:

  • Combine containers: Connect multiple containers to create a larger bedroom with ample space.
  • Stack containers: Utilize vertical space for a bedroom loft, freeing up the ground floor for other uses.
  • Customize layouts: Explore alternative arrangements within the standard container dimensions to accommodate your specific needs.

By carefully considering your individual needs and utilizing the inherent flexibility of container design, you can create a bedroom that serves as a perfect personal sanctuary within your container house.

Container HouseSize of BedroomNumber of Beds and Carrying Capacity
Bedsitter/Studio UnitNo Bedroom partitionOne 6Ft (1.8m) x 4Ft (1.2m) Bed for a Maximum of 2 people. A couple can stay here.
One Bedroom House10Ft (3m) x 8Ft (2.4m)One 6Ft (1.8m) x 6Ft (1.8m) Bed & enough space for bedside table & wardrobe unit orTwo medium sized beds (6Ft x 4Ft), bedside tables & a wardrobe unit  
Two Bedrooms House (From One 40Ft Container)  Two bedrooms, one larger 10Ft (3m) x 8Ft (2.4m) & one smaller 8ft (2.4m) x 8Ft (2.4m)Two bedrooms, one larger (10Ft (3m) x 8Ft (2.4m) & one smaller (8ft (2.4m) x 8Ft 2.4m)). Larger bedroom can carry beds as in One bedroom house above. Smaller bedroom can take one bed preferably of medium size.  
From Two 40Ft ContainersEach can be 20Ft (6m) x 12Ft (3.6m) or thereabout depending on the dimensions of living room, bathroom & kitchen,Each bedroom can be master ensuite with one large bed plus wardrobe unit or Each can have two large beds.
Three Bedrooms HouseFrom Two 40Ft (20Ft (6m) x 12Ft (3.6m)One or two of the bedrooms can be master ensuite with one large bed plus wardrobe unit or Third bedroom can be smaller with One large bed or two medium sized beds

Container Schools in Kenya: How Many Students Can fit in a Standard Container Classroom?

Typically, container classrooms are built by joining two containers side-by-side (and or splitting them cross-sectionally if they’re 40ft long).

A standard container classroom measures 20Ft long and 16ft wide and each can comfortably accommodate up to 42 students. For younger pupils (12 years and below), the same space can comfortably hold 52 students.

Inside a Container Classroom
Pupils inside a container classroom, Narok.

The classroom layout typically involves two rows of seats on each side and three rows in the center, allowing ample space for the teacher to move around freely.

Standard Commercial Stalls: Partitioning Options

A 40ft container can be divided into:

  • Six stalls: Each measuring 8ft long and 6.7ft wide.
  • Five shops: Each measuring 8ft by 8ft square (often preferred by clients).
Container stalls in the yard
40Ft Container Commercial Stalls await dispatch.

Meanwhile, a 20ft container can be partitioned into:

  • Three shops: Each measuring 8ft long and 6.7ft wide.
  • Two Shops: Each measuring 10ft Long & 8Ft wide.

Container Offices: Dimensions & Interior Organization

The interior layout of 40ft and 20ft container offices can vary depending on the desired use and furniture size.

Different arrangements are used for tables and chairs to accommodate individual work, meetings, or conferences.

Office furniture should be designed to promote ease of work, productivity, movement, communication, and visibility.

Here are some common office layouts:

  • Open plan: Employees share a single, non-partitioned space.
  • Cubicles: Employees have individual, enclosed workspaces.
  • Banquet/Bench seating: Workers share long tables without partitions.
  • Cabaret: Small groups (usually 4) sit together at tables, similar to a restaurant setting.
  • Boardroom: A large room with a single, central table surrounded by chairs.
  • Flexible: Allows employees to choose their workspace, promoting trust and responsibility.
  • Partitioned: Similar to commercial stalls, a 20ft container can be partitioned into 3 offices (2 for larger spaces). A 40ft container can hold up to 6 partitions, with recommendations of 4 or 5 for spacious offices.

 The table below represents the container offices, the seating arrangements and the number of employees that can be accommodated when using standard office seats.

20Ft Container Office
Type of seating arrangementNumber of personnel accommodated
Open plan seating layout12
Cubicle seating layout10
40Ft Container Office
Open plan seating layout24
Cubicle seating layout20

 Container Storage Units: Choosing the Right Shelves

Shelving for container units comes in various configurations, defined by the number of levels, shelf type, and material used.

Shelves in a container room
Lockable shelves inside a container changing room, Kesses.

Shelf Options

  • Number of Levels: Choose from 2 to 8 levels, depending on your storage needs.
  • Types of Shelves:
    • Open shelves (for easy access)
    • Lockable shelves (for secure storage)
    • Fixed bracket shelves (permanent)
    • Floating shelves (modern aesthetic)
    • Adjustable shelves (flexible organization)
    • Corner shelves (maximize space utilization)
    • Freestanding shelves (mobile units)
  • Common Shelving Material:
    • Steel (strong and durable, ideal for heavy items)
    • Wood (aesthetically pleasing, good for medium-weight items)
    • Chipboard/MDF boards (affordable, suitable for lighter items)
    • Plastic (lightweight, moisture-resistant)
    • Glass (stylish, showcases items)
    • Aluminum (corrosion-resistant, good for outdoor use)

Matching Shelves to Storage Needs

  • 2-3 Levels: Suitable for bulky items like gas cylinders, chairs, tires.
  • 5-8 Levels: Ideal for smaller items like books, documents, medicine, jewelry, wine bottles, clothes.
  • Choosing for Specific Items:
    • 6kg gas cylinders: Strong steel shelves with 4 levels.
    • General shop/pharmacy: Up to 6-7 levels of glass, wood, or plastic shelves.

Seek Expert Advice

Don’t hesitate to contact us for personalized recommendations and inquiries. We can help you choose the perfect shelving solution for your container storage needs.

Container Washrooms/Ablution Blocks

Types of Ablutions/Washrooms

  • Domestic: Installed in residential homes, varying in size based on individual preferences.
  • Institutional: Found in public spaces like schools, hospitals, and markets.

Standard Stall Dimensions

  • 5ft long x 3ft wide.
  • Fits readily in both 20ft and 40ft containers.
Container SizeNumber of Bathroom Stalls
20Ft Container6 Bathroom stalls (3 for Ladies & 3 for Gents) Gents can be reduced to 2 to accommodate a urinal
40Ft Container12 Bathroom stalls (6 for Ladies & 6 for Gents) Gents section can be reduced to 11 to accommodate a urinal
Container floor plan
Floorplan of a 40Ft container ablution block.

In a Nutshell

In Kenya, fabricated containers offer endless possibilities.

By understanding standard measurements, capacities, and smart design practices, you can benefit from the countless uses of these versatile structures and craft a unique, functional space that reflects your style and needs.

Whether you envision a minimalist container home or a bustling community shopping center, remember that the limitations lie only in your imagination.

So, embrace the container revolution, explore innovative design solutions, and build your dream interior in Kenya, one expertly refurbished container at a time.

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