Greetings from West Texas! 🙂
“I don’t like the Hamptons because you hear the same gossip and have the same conversations as in New York,” said Roger Black, 60, squinting into the midday sun at Cinco Camp, his West Texas vacation home made of recycled shipping containers. “The whole reason of a weekend place is to get away.”
Cinco Camp is 200 miles from the nearest airport, in Midland, Tex., and — thanks to a final stretch of teeth-rattling unpaved road — inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Still, it’s less arduous than getting on the Long Island Expressway on a Friday afternoon, he said, shrugging off the more-than-nine-hour journey from his Manhattan apartment overlooking Gramercy Park.
Mr. Black, who was the art director at Rolling Stone in the 1970s, and at The New York Times and Newsweek in the 1980s, is now a publications consultant and a partner of Font Bureau Inc., a digital type foundry in Boston. He built the house last year, on the incline of a mesa on his 3,000-acre spread in Brewster County, where shale bluffs and sandy valleys are dotted with sagebrush and spiky yucca, and giant tarantulas languidly cross the heat-radiating roads.
When he visits, about once a month, he unlatches the double doors on each of the five 8-by-20-foot shipping containers to reveal, from left to right, a living room, a bedroom, another bedroom, a kitchen and dining area and a storage and utility room. The last is filled with hardware to support several satellite Internet connections, so while he’s out of the way he’s never out of touch.
The opening on each compartment is fitted with sliding glass doors and screens to keep out stinging, biting and otherwise menacing creatures, and the rooms all face west so Mr. Black and any guests can watch the spectacular sunsets as well as distant locomotives toting the same kinds of shipping containers used in the home’s construction.
“It’s comfortable, but you get more than six people in here and you start to bump into each other,” Mr. Black said.
But that isn’t much of a problem, since few of his friends consider West Texas a desirable destination. “City folks get apprehensive looking out onto the horizon and seeing the curvature of the earth,” he said. His ex-wife hated it, as did his ex-boyfriend.
According to the architect, Mark Wellen of Midland, the entire project cost about $200,000 and would have been half that if it wasn’t on such remote terrain. “There’s no local manpower and it’s hard to get equipment out here,” he said.
The containers have hubs on each corner that allow them to be stacked like Legos on railcars and in the holds of ships. Mr. Wellen used the top four as insertion points for the home’s raised shed-like roofing; the bottom ones were used to attach stilts, which he said lift the containers a few feet off the ground “to get them level and also get you up and away from snakes and thorns and varmints.”
Cinco Camp is unlike most other shipping-container structures in that the boxes have been left intact, rather than being cut, contorted and connected. The containers and the bar-grate steel decking that runs between them have the same rusty patina as West Texas cattle guards and barbed-wire fences. Hovering above the house and shielding it from the sun are the five slanted, shed-like covers held aloft by I-beams.
As Mr. Black explained, “I wanted something that blends into the landscape and could be installed and eventually removed with minimal disturbance to the environment.”
He spends most evenings at Cinco Camp on the deck, grilling his dinner on a custom-built barbecue welded to the railing. “When I’m working, there’s a lot of stress and I have to be on all the time,” he said. “Out here, I get back to reality … whatever reality is.”
So what do you think? Would you live here? 🙂
Information Source: NY Times