We've seen shipping containers that have been converted into small living or business spaces before, but now architects are getting serious about this novel solution to the US container glut. The problem is that as a country we buy so much cheap stuff from China, that the shipping containers are piling up near the ports of entry to the tune of over 5 million a year. I guess it must be cheaper to make new ones than to ship the old ones back empty.
Welding them together to form a house has a lot of advantages. They're pretty much rot free (although I'd watch for rust), they should be pretty earthquake resistant, and they won't light up like a bonfire the next time junior gets carried away playing with the stove lighter.
Several green friendly architecture firms now specialize in homes built from recycled containers.