Shipping containers serve a pretty useful function, helping to transport goods safely across the world. However, when they come to the end of their time at sea, there are numerous ways a shipping container can be given a brand new lease of life and continue being useful for years to come. Take a look at these ten amazing uses for shipping containers – we’re sure you’ll be surprised!
#1 Sturdy Shed
The humble shed is a British institution and one that has many functions – from a peaceful garden sanctuary to simply being a place to store the mower. Whatever you use your shed for, why not consider upgrading to something a bit sturdier than wood? Using a shipping container means no wood rot or mould, no assembly or maintenance required, and increased security. And why stop at a shed? Shipping containers also make strong, weather-proof garden rooms, home offices and playhouses too. This garden studio was designed by the Grass Roof Company to give visitors to the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show an idea of how a shipping container could work as a useable outdoor space.
#2 Perfectly-Sized Pool
If you’ve always dreamt of having your own backyard swimming pool, a shipping container could be the perfect quick and easy solution. With no digging, no planning permission and no major work required, 20ft and 40ft shipping container swimming pools can simply be dropped into place. Container Pools is one British company offering practical Aquaflex-lined pools with filters, heat pumps, underwater lights and ladders as standard. All you need to do is dig out your swimsuit!
#3 Quirky Housing
Architects have been finding clever ways to convert shipping containers into housing for years, using them to create some amazing housing solutions. Tempohousing in the Netherlands is an industry leader in building with shipping containers, with projects including the world’s first container campus for students, built to tackle a shortage of student housing in Amsterdam, and a homeless shelter in Brighton. We also really like the Urban Rigger project in Copenhagen, which puts shipping containers back in their natural habitat as floating student accommodation.
#4 Pop-Up Shop, Bar or Café
The size, shape and sturdy nature of shipping containers makes them ideal candidates for conversion into cool pop-up shops, bars or cafes. The colourful Beany café bar built by Mr Box shows how the humble shipping container can be completely transformed.
Shipping Containers UK is another company giving previously dull-looking containers a fresh new look. Their pop-up shop project for Superdry is a brilliant example of how the industrial look can be used in perfect harmony with a brand.
#5 Shipping Container School
Innovative modular systems like Container City™ make it possible to use shipping containers to create bigger spaces usable for everything from hotels to offices. They’re an especially useful solution when you want to build with a minimum of disruption to the surroundings – adding classrooms to a school, for example. The Shooters Hill campus and Horniman School are just two such projects using this system by London-based Urban Space Management Ltd, with short installation times meaning work can be easily completed during the school holidays – sorry kids!
#6 Magical Metal Playground
Add a little imagination to a shipping container, and it becomes an endless number of things, from a cave to a pirate ship to a space station. That’s why stacking shipping containers to create a children’s activity centre like the talented people at Phooey Architects did in Melbourne, is a genius idea. Plus, these metal containers will stand up to any amount of rough and tumble the kids can throw at them.
#7 Refurbished Furniture
The trend for upcycled furniture with a story behind it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down – and what could have more of a story than a shipping container that’s travelled the world! Brazilian shipping container re-use company Contain[It] proved that these metal boxes could enjoy a new lease of life in homes and offices, unveiling a line of furniture made from container scraps, with everything from lounge chairs to lighting in the collection.
#8 Creative Containers
It makes sense that creative shipping container buildings should house equally creative projects, and many find these colourful, interesting buildings inspiring places to work. The modular Container City system has been used to create some exciting artists’ hubs, including Clipper House which accommodates the prestigious Royal Drawing School and the University of East London.
If you think about the size and shape of shipping containers, and how they’d look laid end to end, it becomes clear that they could easily form a perfect sturdy bridge. This is exactly what the architects at Messer-Architects had in mind when they designed the colourful Econtainer Bridge in Ariel Sharon Park, Israel – adding innovation and industrial design to this former landfill site.
#10 Growing Spaces
One fast-growing use for recycled shipping containers is transforming them into indoor farms or greenhouses, with Growtainer ™ calling them the ‘portable production facility of the future.’ Crop Box is another company using containers to grow everything from lettuces to strawberries, selling the goods they produce at The Farmery café in Durham, North Carolina. One of the great benefits of these indoor farms is that they’re stackable, so you don’t need acres of land to yield an impressive crop.
It’s amazing how many uses can be found for these simple metal boxes. From using them in the home to transforming them into a home, and much more, it’s clear that the humble shipping container is far from a one-use wonder.