Shipping containers are very strong boxes; you can stack them 16 high when empty, 9 high when full. When Tomokazu Hayakawa Architects wanted to build this little art gallery and office development in Tokyo they planned on using shipping containers, but ran into a problem.
The architects tell Archdaily:
Marine containers that circulate widely in the world are not allowed to be used as the main structure; because Japanese Building Standards Act requires the JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) materials for structure.
They were not allowed to simply stack the containers, so they installed a timberframe structure (you can see the columns inside the container above) to hold up the boxes, essentially using them just as a skin.
It does make for an interesting skin, and the way they skewed the placement of the boxes makes for very interesting spaces between.
It is again one of those cases where it is more about container image over substance. It all looks lovely, but that's one tight board room, and there is a whole lot of structure in those containers that is doing absolutely nothing. It's one of those examples that make you wonder, does shipping container architecture make sense?
But it is one terrific looking pile of boxes. Lots more images at ArchDaily