The Shipping Container Scene in 2010


Image credit Lloyd Alter

One of the worst career moves I ever made was to write off shipping containers. I started my architectural education with them, winning the big prize in 1st year for this summer camp that folded out of a 40 footer. But in the real world I found them too small, too expensive, and too toxic, between the lead paint and the insecticides in the floors.

But architects and designers keep proving that you can do interesting things with them. Preston at Jetson Green does a great roundup of 15 container projects that he covered this year; we do not have as many, but follow his lead.
Stunning French Shipping Container House (We Think)

One has to insulate a shipping container or you will alternately freeze or boil. Most architects insulate on the inside to retain that shipping container charm, but that doesn't leave much room. The Crossbox by CG Architectes is unusual that it is clad on the outside. I was not even certain that it was made from shipping containers, but the architect commented: "it's really made of 4 40' containers - but using containers is not a purpose, just a tool." More in TreeHugger

Shipping Container Studio Building Built in a Week

Here is a real virtue of shipping containers: it's fast. The Box Office in Providence, Rhode Island, was assembled in a week. More in TreeHugger

MEKA Prefab Takes Manhattan, Raises Questions About The Future Of Housing

This was everywhere, after some smart Canadians dropped the cute little container project on the streets of Manhattan. I should have been thrilled to see some neighbours succeed, but remain troubled that the reason that they were able to build modern prefab affordably was to offshore its manufacture to China, like everything else. More in TreeHugger

Shipping Containers Top Off Artist's Studio

Here is another one that troubled me a bit, where two shipping containers form the roof of an artists studio. Except that they have cut away 75% of the floors and about 75% of the center walls. I concluded:


Is it efficient and economical compared to conventional construction? In this case you have to wonder; After the guys with the cutting torches were finished there is not much left of them, only an eighth of the usable floor area. But they sure are cute.

More in TreeHugger

Condo Sales Office Built Out of Shipping Containers And Looks It

I loved this one, a temporary sales office that really goes against type in the condo biz, a "temporary urban art piece, designed as a catalyst for development in the Park East, [Milwaukee] makes a bold and creative statement about this area's industrial past and its future urbanization. " More in TreeHugger

Actors Demonstrate How To Save Energy... In a Glass-Walled Shipping Container

Here is another appropriate use of containers: a short term use during the Olympics, where two actors in two shipping containers compared lifestyles. One left the big plasma screen going and burned a lot of juice; Actor Ryan Haneman lived in the other, and used 80% less electricity. More in TreeHugger

Container Cafe is a View Tube on the Olympic Site

Bonnie writes:

Called the View Tube, this stunning cafe is made out of lime green recycled shipping containers. Perched on a hill overlooking the site of the London 2012 Olympics, it is a cafe, a look-out and a gallery space.

It is also much more: a social enterprise, serving as a focal point for the arts, environmental classes, local artists as well as an education centre for the community.



More in TreeHugger


ContainerSpace: A Shipping Container as Zero Carbon Art Gallery

George Mason University is home to over 40 conservative think tanks, many of which think climate change is a hoax; fortunately the School of Art is a different place, where they care about their carbon footprint. They have converted an old shipping container into "a prototype for a zero-carbon mobile exhibition gallery and community space." More in TreeHugger

Art School Built From 8 Shipping Containers

LOT -EK were among the pioneers of shipping container architecture, and they are still pushing the envelope. For the APAP Open School in South Korea they slice and dice 8 40' shipping containers into an exhibition space, meeting rooms and studios. More in TreeHugger

100 Shipping Containers Become Student Housing in France

I have never been convinced that shipping containers make comfortable housing; their interior width is a bit tight. But compared to a lot of student accommodation, this is pretty generous and comfortable looking. More in TreeHugger

Are Shipping Containers An Answer For Haiti Housing?

Um, maybe not. More in TreeHugger

Containers to Clinics: Out of the Box Healthcare

Containers to Clinics is a non-profit founded by Elizabeth Sheehan to "develop a new model for heath service delivery"- they outfit shipping containers with the latest in equipment, medicine and staff and deliver them to underserved parts of the world to administer primary health care to women and children. More in TreeHugger


Allied Container Systems Builds Entire Cities From Shipping Containers

TreeHugger has shown quite a few shipping container houses and even a few shipping container buildings, but never anything on the scale of the work of Allied Container Systems; they build entire cities out of shipping containers. But they are not inhabited; they are giant sets, training facilities for Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) There are lots of them all over the world, and they are spectacular. More in TreeHugger

ContainR Theatre Shows Sports Films During Olympics

Can't afford a ticket to an event? Go hang out in the ContainR, a "street installation at the nexus of video, public art and urban design, sitting at the cross roads of mountain and urban culture, art and sports cinema, embracing public art and sustainable design." More in TreeHugger

Follow me on Twitter! @lloydalter and friend me on Facebook