LOT-EK’s Selected Projects #2

LOT-EK is particularly well known for its innovative and creative work with the standard ISO Shipping Container. Despite being experts in shipping containers, they have made and proposed creating architecture out of many more timeless materials. LOT-EK’s drawing in MoMA is made out of cardboard box!

History of LOT-EK

LOT-EK was founded in 1993 by Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano. Through the upcycling of existing industrial objects and systems not initially meant for architecture, LOT-EK has gained high visibility  for their sustainable and creative approach to space, construction, and materials. The firm has in their arsenal a variety of projects ranging from collaborations and installations with artists; cultural projects for clients like The Whitney Museum of Art and The Guggenheim Museum; commercial projects for clients such as Band of Outsiders and Puma; even institutional projects for clients such like Google and TK. LOT-EK’s projects span across the Globe; their innovative, ecological, and experimental practice, especially with the ISO Shipping Container, made the firm an international sensation.

Ada Tolla, Founding Partner and Principal of LOT-EK

Ada is an architect, principal, and co-founder of LOT-EK. She completed her post-graduate studies at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in New York after studying architecture at the Universita’ degli Studi Federico II in Naples, Italy. In addition to leading her practice she has up to 20 years of graduate-level teaching. She teaches at Columbia University’s GSAPP and gives talks at prestigious academic institutions and cultural centers worldwide.

Giuseppe Lignano, Founding Partner and Principal of LOT-EK

Giuseppe is a founding partner of LOT-EK and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture at Columbia GSAPP. Universita’ di Napoli in Italy awarded him a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design and he completed his doctorate at Columbia University. In addition to teaching at Columbia University, he gives lectures at prestigious colleges and cultural centers around the world.

Company Culture

LOT-EK creates sustainable and soulful architecture as a unique and award-winning studio by transforming industrial and infrastructural objects. They have been studying, exploring, and adapting the use of ISO Shipping Containers in architectural practices for 25 years through a process called upcycling – a type of adaptive reuse where the main goals are to prolong the life of manufactured goods, increase the capacity of current systems, and investigate the potential of legacy platforms.

In the name LOT/EK, you can hear the words low and technology. We are low in the sense that we are environmentally low-impact and the ethic of our practice is grounded in adaptive reuse; but we are also playful and powerful in our architecture—regardless of where its components come from.

LOT-EK’s dynamic and experienced team works closely with all of their partners and stakeholders, including manufacturers, fabricators, customers, and collectors. Their core values stand out with the fact that because they care even more about places and people, they are interested in objects and operations, in ecology and technology.

Architect-US works in close contact with firms such as LOT-EK, host company for incredibly talented architects such as Romain Dubettier-Grenier. Architect-US is proud to announce that this is the first time we processed a Visa at LOT-EK, and it went wonderful!

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Romain Dubettier-Grenier

Romain is an amazing young architect who completed his Bachelor’s Degree at EPFL in Laussane, Switzerland, and will be starting his Master of Architecture in 2024 at the same University. His resume speaks wonders about his determination and work-ethic with experience ranging from working as a Bookstore Manager at Collège du Léman in Geneva every Summer, all the way to becoming an Assistant Architect at Fundim S.A. in Luassane. Throughout his studies, he has developed a strong foundation in architectural design principles, and he found a great place to use those qualities at LOT-EK. He will be doing a 6 months Internship program, and we are grateful he chose Architect-US to help with the process!

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LOT-EK Selected Projects

Carroll House

LOT-EK was commissioned by Joe and Kim Carroll to create Carroll House, in Brooklyn, New York. LOT-EK collected and stacked 21 steel containers and then cut them diagonally across both the top and bottom, resulting in a captivating design. The diagonal cut creates a very enclosed and private monolith from the surrounding streets by transforming the container assembly into a single-family residence. The diagonal also alters the traditional ground-floor rear yard type and use by allocating private outdoor space on each level of the house. Large glass doors provide access to each deck while also providing light and cross ventilation on all levels. All outdoor areas are linked by a steel stair along the north wall.

Photos by LOT-EK


China’s Qiyun Mountain Camp is a sizable park dedicated to extreme sports and natural adventures. The base units of the various buildings are created by bias-cutting shipping containers. They undergo joining, mirroring, tilting, and recombination in order to create new typologies and fit multiple programs.

Three distinct areas are carefully inserted into the landscape while taking into account the varying topography: the orange and blue Entrance Pavilion with offices, a ticket area, and an information center above it with turnstiles below, that opens onto Market Street; the yellow and blue Restaurant Plaza is situated atop a hill and overlooks the river below with its indoor space and outdoor terrace and it slopes down toward the park via an open amphitheater; The blue Aquatic Pier offers lake access and related services near the water. Together, modular units form a shaded cluster with cafes and changing areas arranged to store kayaks and point guests toward the water.

Photos by LOT-EK

Taipei Art Museum

A design submitted for the new Art Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, is made up of approximately 1,100 shipping containers that form the building’s curved «walls.» The strong volume of the museum is created as a sculpture by the shifting of the stacked containers, which produce «stepped» edges. A pedestrian walkway and a bike-friendly passenger bridge pierce the building, providing a useful means of connecting NTCArt to the surrounding environment.

The program starts outside at ground level, where an eye-catching protruding structure offers a covered pedestrian plaza that is ideal for play, relaxation, and serving as an outdoor sculpture garden. There is a lobby/information center located in an open space at the ground level of the museum. The highest level would function as a planted observation deck and it is also the place for the Children’s museum.

Photos by LOT-EK

We will be posting more projects by LOT-EK in the upcoming weeks and months, so keep an eye out for more of their incredible work! Every Friday we will be posting a new Featured Company, so join us again next week!

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