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Hamptons Life

Aug 17, 2015 10:42 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Tiny Spaces From A Fashion Designer

This Cocoon9 is on display at Mecox Gardens in Southampton. CAREY LONDON
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Aug 17, 2015 11:00 AM

Sometimes great things come in small packages. In the land of the oversized, the East End still has pockets of petite, and they are every bit as charming as one might expect.

“I think we’re fortunate that people today want smaller houses, and they want a higher level of quality,” said Christopher Burch, co-founder of the luxury fashion brand Tory Burch. His newest venture is converting shipping containers into modern livable spaces with co-founder Edwin Mahoney.

Known as Cocoon9, these are marketed as luxury prefab container housing units, and there are two parked in Southampton—one is serving as a pool house at Mr. Burch’s estate; the other is open to the public at Mecox Gardens on County Road 39.

The containers are movable, and the spaces versatile, as they can serve in a variety of capacities. Think primary residence, pool house, guest quarters, artist’s studio or yoga loft. Out east, the use would most likely be accessory.

“In the Hamptons, the consumer knows how expensive construction of a pool house can be,” said Mr. Burch over the phone.

There are three models with different floor plans from which to choose. The Cabin and the Studio models are both 480 square feet, while the Lite 20 model is 160 square feet. They range in price from $75,000 for the Lite 20 base model to $275,000 for the premium versions of the other two models. These living modules have been detailed with multipurpose furniture and casework that open up and fold away—a swiveling flat screen TV allows for viewing in different rooms, for example.

Sustainable and comfortable were the focal points for design. “All of it has got to be pure to the environment, very high-end luxury, a lot of convertibility, and it has got to feel spacious,” said Mr. Burch.

The containers are outfitted with LED lighting, insulated windows, and approved-forest certified and non-toxic materials. The rooftops can accommodate solar panels or a garden. High-tech elements are also incorporated, including smart glass technology that allows users to turn the shower walls from clear to opaque for privacy, and an app-controlled entertainment system.

Although the structures are easy to customize and even to install, homeowners must still go through the regular permit process. For example, in Southampton Village, they would need to go before the Architectural Review Board for approval of appearance and siding, according to Tien Ho So, a village building inspector. They would also need a building permit and to make sure the container meets setback requirements. “The maximum size for a majority of accessory buildings in the small lot areas in the village is 520 square feet, so this trailer would fall into them,” said the building inspector. “In the estate areas, 800 square feet is the max.”

It may be on the higher end of prefab shipping containers, but these diminutive spaces might still be a good deal on the East End for homeowners looking for something to complement their main houses.

“This house for a person in wealthy areas is a very good value,” said Mr. Burch.

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