Shipping containers are ubiquitous and well-travelled. They are shipped from port to port and can contain anything from potato chips to luxury cars. Containers need to be made of tough stuff in order to sustain their utilitarian lives of international travel, stacking, storms at sea and loading and transport stresses. It’s this very strength that has made them the perfect candidates for some very surprising uses.
From Comfy Homes to Pop-up Shops
The disparate number of containers in North America results from more goods being shipped from Asia. It’s often cheaper to buy new containers than it is to ship empty containers back to their ports of origin. This surplus of cheap containers has been utilized to create practical, environmentally friendly, weather-resistant spaces for everything from offices to houses and coffee shops. Their cosy interior spaces are perfect for offices and small shops. Pop-up shops are a new phenomenon which sees small businesses open shop in an area for a couple of days or weeks. These pop-up shops are perfect for trending items or for selling goods at shows and special events. If you have a pop-up shop or a food stall in a container, you can lock it up, ship it and set it up instantly in a new location.
But its container houses that garner the most interest. Their cost, maneuverability, durability and low carbon footprint make shipping containers the perfect candidates for cosy homes or even big homes when a number of containers are stacked to create a larger living space. There have even been some shipping container hotels!
Benefits of Container Houses
Containers make the prefect building blocks for offices and houses for several reasons:
- They are more affordable than conventional building materials and make housing accessible to more people.
- Containers are extremely durable and designed to withstand inclement weather at sea as well as the rigours of being loaded onto ships and trucks. They require no additional reinforcement and can be stacked to make larger homes, apartment buildings and hotels.
- Easy to construct; the speed at which containers can be converted into livable spaces reduces costs and also makes them perfect for temporary housing in emergency conditions.
- Moving has never been this easy! If you decide to relocate you can simply lock up your home and ship it to a new destination.
- It’s environmentally responsible; recycling shipping containers means that your new home or office has a smaller embodied carbon foot print than any new building.
- Shipping containers are resistant to mold, fire, termites and weather conditions associated with hurricanes.
- North America’s surplus of containers significantly reduces the cost and means that there is an abundance of available containers for conversion to homes, shops and offices.
How it works
Already weatherproofed, shipping containers provide an excellent shell for home conversion. Once insulated and fitted with windows, doors, plumbing and electrics, your container becomes a cosy home or office space.
Width problems can be overcome with the addition of other containers or slide-out elements that add to the internal space in key areas like the bedroom, kitchen and living spaces.
About 10 000 containers are lost at sea each year and, although most of these sink quickly, some do stay afloat long enough to pose a shipping hazard or wash up on a distant beach. Residents along the Outer Banks in North Carolina, for instance, were pleased to find a container of Doritos chips which ran aground on their shores.
What this does mean is that containers are already weatherproofed, but require extensive insulation in colder climes.