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Shipping Container Architecture

26 June 2019

Reusing shipping containers for building purposes is still a relatively new type of sustainable design referred to as shipping container architecture. Architects around the world are increasingly turning to shipping containers as their preferred building material.

The history

Back in 1956, Malcom McLean, nicknamed “the father of containerisation”, developed the first modern intermodal shipping container, revolutionising the worldwide transportation of goods in the process. Unbeknownst to him, his invention would go on to transform the building industry as well. 

In 1962, the first official document specifying the use of shipping containers as a building material was published. It wasn’t until 1987, however, that the first official record for a shipping container home was published, when a man named Phillip Clark filed a patent called the “Method for converting one or more steel shipping containers into a habitable building”. He cited how shipping containers can be used to create a liveable building when laid on a weight-bearing foundation, claiming they make the perfect modular building material, and that reused containers are an economical alternative when constructing homes.

Benefits of building with shipping containers

Many of the same qualities shipping containers provide for the transport and logistics industries makes them ideal building materials:
  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Structurally sound
  • Sustainable
  • Cost effective
  • Widespread availability

The properties of a shipping container mean they are great alternative on sites that traditional buildings are not suitable to occupy. Offering more versatility and flexibility as a material is one of the reasons behind their increased use. Another big driver is sustainability. Using shipping containers over other materials results in the reduction and reuse of industrial waste and materials.

What have shipping containers been used to build

  • Homes
  • Apartment buildings
  • Accommodation
  • Offices
  • Schools
  • Tree houses
  • Bars, restaurants and cafes
    • Fun fact: Starbucks has more than 40 stores around the world that utilise shipping containers as the main building block. The coffee chain giant’s commitment to sustainable building was taken to a whole new level when it opened a new outlet in Taiwan in 2018. Renowned architect Kengo Kuma designed the building consisting of 29 recycled white shipping containers placed in a grid-like formation.  

As you can see, repurposed shipping containers offer a host of benefits that other salvaged building materials often lack. From being abundant, affordable and durable and provide a solid structure that is suitable for inhabitation, as well as spaces for work and education. It will be interesting to see what architects will create with shipping containers in the future.

Want to know more about the many magnificent uses of shipping containers? Or are you are ready to start a project of your own? We sell and rent both new and used sea and storage containers, cabins, offshore containers and reefers in different types and sizes. So why not browse through the CBOX Containers site or contact us today!

About CBOX
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Rosebery NSW 1445

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