‘Life-size Lego experiment’ raises the bar on eco-friendly living in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The 60th New Orleans Home & Garden Show kicks off on Friday. One of the highlights will be a village built from shipping containers. Show Manager Mike Zalaznik says there will be shipping containers transformed into everything from a yoga studio to a fishing camp!

“People are always coming to the show looking for new products and new ways to build,” says Zalaznik.

He says container architecture is a worldwide trend that’s finally hit the United States. “There are a lot more people interested in it because it’s living large in a small space. It’s living more efficiently.”

Landscape architect Seth Rodewald-Bates is one of those people. In fact, he’s celebrating one year of living large in a small space; last March he and his wife moved into a 720-square-foot home they built out of two freight containers.

“It’s more efficient from a space standpoint,” says Rodewald-Bates, who says the energy efficient home has space-saving appliances, and it has forced him and his wife to reduce material items in their lives.

In all, he says the home cost about $200,000 to build, including what he calls their “splurge,” an in-ground pool in the tiny backyard. Financing was a challenge, but the landscape architect, who studied at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, says wrangling, professional connections and lots of sweat equity helped make this dream a reality.

The doors are instant hurricane shutters, a fact that Rodewald-Bates says is a big plus for anyone living in New Orleans. Lots of natural light is another bonus, but one that he says can be overwhelming at times.

Helping the environment, and living in a home that’s unique are also concepts the couple found appealing.

“It was partly the idea of upcycling and using something that’s really common in New Orleans,” said Rodewald-Bates.

“I loved Lego’s as a kid, and this was kind of a life-size Lego experiment.”

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