Creative ways to reuse shipping containers

Creative ways to reuse shipping containers

Shipping containers, when they have exceeded their serviceable life for transporting merchandise can be put to a multitude of uses. This is an architectural trend today and often referred to as “container architecture” or “cargotecture”. The push for employing sustainable materials in the construction industry by adapting to affordable, eco-friendly buildings and reducing waste has set in motion a green movement that is pushing the limits of innovation and design. Instead of being discarded and scrapped, timeworn shipping containers are now being used to construct low-cost housing to emergency shelters, pools and freight farms among others.Therefore, the concept of cargotecture is gaining momentum worldwide.

The use of old and new shipping containers for converting them into homes and other utilities have grown in acceptance due to the inherent strength and durability with which they are originally designed, their easy availability and economical cost. Since they are strong enough to be stacked in high columns with heavy loads and have resistance to harsh environment, they contribute to their flexibility in being employed for such multiple uses after they have exceeded their normal life-span intended for transportation of goods. Their modular design helps in converting them into larger structures. Although working with containers requires specialized knowledge in welding and steel cutting, the expenses are still lower compared to conventional labor used for creating spaces using brick, cement and wood.

Let’s now look at somecreative avenues in which these shipping containers can be up-cycled to serve a variety of different purposes that add to aesthetics and eco-friendliness.

Container Homes
The modular design of shipping containers makes them ideal for converting into homes. Cutting away steel at required places can make way for door and ventilation allowing air and sunlight to pass through and circulate. While traditional homes using brick and cement could take months to build, container homes can be built in a few weeks due to the fact that they can be pre-fabricated before they are brought to the site. Customization is possible by stacking one container on top of another or placed on the sides. Thus multiple floors can be constructed, and to create larger spaces within a single floor, containers can be combined together.To provide additional strength and durability, steel reinforcements can also be integrated. Container homes provide safety from burglary, and they make a perfect choice for homes in remote places and rural areas.

To overcome issues with over-heating and cooling, it would be worthwhile to invest in temperature control systems. One must also be cautious of health hazards from pollutants inside the containers because they are not originally manufactured for human habitation. Lead-based paints used on containers may prove hazardous, so adequate safety measures must be taken before they are certified as safe living spaces.

Container Gardens/Freight Farms
An alternative to growing plants on the ground is the use of shipping containers. Popularly known as container gardens or freight farms, they take care of problems associated with soil-borne diseases and weeds and allow easy monitoring of sunlight, temperature and moisture. They can be found in backyards, parking lots and warehouses. Environmental controls should be put in place to achieve maximum efficiency. Container farming allows cultivating crops closer to market and makes available fresh produce for consumers.

Office And Commercial Spaces
Containers can be used as offices and retail shops and can be designed distinctively in an affordable manner combining aesthetics and modernity. This concept is different from shipping containers that have been traditionally used as site offices at construction sites.

Constructing traditional pools in one’s backyard can be constrained by the existing landscape and the need to excavate land. Such in-ground pools can also bloat and incur hidden expenses as they age. In contrast, shipping container pools allow flexible and instinctive design with excellent structural support.

This new architectural trend of transforming used shipping containers into sleek eco-friendly spaces for overnight stays is gaining acceptance the world over.

Barns And Outhouses
Building barns with wood can be costly, so shipping containers come in as handy alternatives to construct durable weather-proof barns. Besides, barns made from such metal frames provide sufficient security to the goods stored in contrast to structures made of wood.

Container Decks
They are made using discarded but good-condition containers. With large doors, windows and decks on top, they redefine the limits of architectural designs possible.

Using discarded shipping containers as playgrounds for children count among some of the most pioneering ideas.

Art Gallery
Inspiring structures can be built by using the reinforced steel from shipping containers. They can also serve as a gallery for exhibiting paintings and other creative art.

Emergency Shelters
During times of natural disasters like earthquakes and flooding, people have to be evacuated and provided with temporary shelters.

Food Trucks
For those aiming to maximize their mobile food business, converted shipping containers are a one-stop-solution. They can also be moved from one place to another using truck beds.

Recording Studios
Shipping containers can be transformed into soundproof studios, complete with control and tracking rooms. They can be built to match professional acoustic standards.