Often discarded after just a few uses, shipping containers are cheap and readily available, making them an ideal component of all sorts of architectural projects. They’re used as the basis of homes, apartment buildings, offices, pavilions, retail spaces, traveling exhibitions and more. Here are 14 fun and creative uses of reclaimed cargo crates.
Shipping Container Vacation Retreat
Inside a large barn-like glass structure, stacks of orange shipping containers offer an unusual form of vacation housing. Architect Adam Kalkin is known for designing unusual structures-within-structures, and this setup creates a protected common space that is filled with light, while still maintaining private individual spaces for guests.
Modular Fold-Out Shipping Container Home
Imagine towing your home around as easily as a semi hauls its cargo load, and then opening it up to nature at your chosen destination. The Port-a-Bach cargo container home looks like an ordinary shipping crate when closed, but folds out to reveal a well-appointed living space full of storage and all the amenities you’d expect. That includes bunk beds, a master bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a bathroom with a shower and composting toilet. It’s powered with solar panels.
Modern Stacked Shipping Container Homes
The modular Green Frame House uses steel frames that are either fitted with shipping containers or left open, creating interesting configurations of living spaces with decks and courtyards.
Pop-Out Side Spaces Add Width to Shipping Crate Home
Side panels that pop out beyond the main frame of a single 40-foot shipping container eliminate the closed-in feel that limited width (usually about nine feet) can bring in these reclaimed structures. The ‘Mobile Dwelling Unit‘ is sort of like an RV with lots of slide-outs, with spaces that expand when the unit is stationary, and slide back in when traveling.
Stacked Shipping Container Tower
Shipping crates stacked on top of each other create an unusual office tower for a German manufacturer. Rather than refinishing them so they all blend together, the company chose to leave the exteriors of the crates in their original, worn and used state, branded with logos.
Mirrored Shipping Container Pavilion
Would you ever guess that this temporary pavilion exhibiting arts and crafts is made from a shipping container? The exterior was covered in a mirrored coating for an interesting visual effect, albeit one that may lead to a few accidents with birds and clumsy humans.
Cardiac Hospital in Sudan Made of Shipping Crates
Old shipping containers have been used to create a solar-powered cardiac facility near the Nile River in Khartoum, Sudan. Winner of the 2013 Aga Khan Architecture Award, the Salam Center uses reclaimed shipping creates for nearly the entire facility, including the hospital block, the cafeteria and staff accommodations.
Project in Utah Transforms Shipping Containers into Affordable Homes
Quality affordable housing can be a challenge in many areas of the world. In Utah, an initiative called the Sarah House Project upcycles low-cost shipping containers into eco-friendly homes for low-income families. Each home consists of two crates and costs less than $120,000, including the lot.
Converted Shipping Crates Ease Homeless Crisis in UK
Stacked into three- and five-story apartment complexes, shipping containers offer temporary housing for the ever-growing number of homeless youth in the UK. Groups like Charity Forest YMCA and Brighton Homeless Trust are transforming the shipping containers into compact housing in disused lots.
Shipping Crate Storytelling Center in Detroit
Recycled shipping containers will be upcycled into a new community space for Detroit, which will be used to bring back the art of storytelling. The community lobby will later be joined by a hotel called Collision Works, which will both serve to bring life back to the city’s Eastern Market area.
Colorful Pavilion in France
This temporary pop-up building is made of 15 colorful shipping containers. Serving as a pavilion for Renault cars in a Paris suburb, the structure can be relocated and adapted to a new use when the exhibit is over.
Fun Shipping Container Takes Designers on Tours Across China
Convertible into a tea house, movie theater or pavilion, the ‘Jike Idea’ shipping container takes designers on tours across China. Rounded cutouts in the exterior shell give it a modern, fun appearance, letting in sunlight during the day and enabling views of the container’s surroundings.
Urban Farm Units Add Greenhouses to Shipping Crates
A greenhouse stacked on top of a shipping crate creates an urban mini-farm where organic vegetables can be grown via conventional or aquaponic methods, in which fish housed in aquariums provide waste to fertilize the plants. These Urban Farm Units have been deployed across Europe to bring healthy foods to urban areas where vegetable gardens can be hard to find.