Container home a sea change for Medina

Exclusive Jake DietschSound Telegraph
Richard Hyde and Martial Depczynski are concerned over a sea container structure that has emerged in a neighbouring block.
Camera IconRichard Hyde and Martial Depczynski are concerned over a sea container structure that has emerged in a neighbouring block. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph/Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph

A strange structure made out of shipping containers has Medina residents up in arms, but the owner insists the “sustainable” building will be his retirement home.

“We thought the Freo port authority had moved in next door,” neighbour Richard Hyde said.

Six containers, which are set to form a house, are currently on a vacant triangular sub-divided block of land on Brownell Place in Medina, with one container stacked on top of two below.

A view of the sea container structure on Brownell Street in Medina from a neighbouring house.
Camera IconA view of the sea container structure on Brownell Street in Medina from a neighbouring house. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph/Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph

Ecologic Homes owner Ken Wibberley craned in the containers in January, but was forced by the City of Kwinana to stop as he didn’t have a building permit.

The unfinished stack of containers has sat there ever since. Residents have raised fears they are not stably placed and could be toppled by wind or collapsing foundations.

Neighbours are also concerned the two-storey home will violate the privacy of adjoining blocks and that it goes against Medina’s heritage values of small cottage homes on large blocks.

Martial Depczynski lives directly in front of the block. Not only has his view been obstructed, he also claims his fence has begun to collapse due to site works that began almost a year ago.

Another resident, Mr Hyde, said he and other locals had discovered there were relatively few rules with the City about what could be built on back blocks that don’t face the street.

“It’s two-storey, it’s got overlooking issues into multiple neighbours,” Mr Hyde said.

“The council has been caught short for any proper planning guidelines.

“He’s commenced building with no building permit.

“Our concern is that he’s not going to treat (the containers) sufficiently to turn them into something that looks like a house.”

“We thought we were living in a bad dream.”

An artist's concept of what Ken Wibberley's Medina home will eventually look like from the street.
Camera IconAn artist's concept of what Ken Wibberley's Medina home will eventually look like from the street. Credit: Ken Wibberley/Supplied/Ken Wibberley/Supplied

Mr Wibberley said the home would be his “final private residence” and wanted to have the “best possible relationship” with his future neighbours.

“We can also appreciate the neighbours’ concerns as this portion of the property has always been vacant, since the initial land division decades ago, and change is not always comfortable for people,” he said.

Mr Wibberley said while he hadn’t built a sea container structure before, he was an award-winning qualified designer with a Bachelor of Architecture, specialising in energy efficient passive solar design homes for 30 years and has contributed to the design of 600 homes.

“The design of this home incorporates many design features of passive solar and sustainable design while also responding to a difficult triangular shape property, which has minister sewer easements running along two of the three sides,” he said.

“With a very tight construction budget we consider this build demonstrates how difficult in-fill development can be undertaken cost effectively.”

Neighbours are outraged over a sea container structure that sprung up in January.
Camera IconNeighbours are outraged over a sea container structure that sprung up in January. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Coastal Times/Jake Dietsch/Coastal Times

Mr Wibberley said due to “complications” the building application wasn’t complete, but he had a development approval and other necessary certifications.

He said he had since submitted the building permit application to council and expected it to be approved “in the next week or two”.

Mr Wibberley said the home complied with council’s privacy provisions and he had agreed to keep an existing jarrah tree.

Neighbours have raised concerns over the stability of the sea containers.
Camera IconNeighbours have raised concerns over the stability of the sea containers. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph/Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph

City of Kwinana chief executive Wayne Jack said while the structure had planning approval, the owner started works before building approval was granted.

Mr Jack said the application was incomplete, but that the City was confident the “final result” would “be more appealing than the current raw sea container would suggest”.

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