Amazing Shipping Container Projects

Wonder what happens to a shipping container when a cargo company finishes using it? Instead of just rusting somewhere unused, people are turning them into some fantastic projects. Today’s intermodal shipping containers come in several sizes, most commonly in 10’, 20’ and 40’ lengths. That’s plenty of space to make a plain rectangle into something impressive. Typically purchasing a container is more affordable than building a permanent structure, so it is an attractive option for some. Depending on the project, people add windows, fresh paint, solar panels, electricity, and plumbing systems, just like a regular building. Let’s check out a few ingenious re-use designs.

Hospital Overflow Units

When hospitals and clinics reach capacity, they can create overflow areas using shipping containers. These containers can be brought on-site quickly and modified into check-in and testing departments and even set up with beds and all the equipment needed to be a triage area.


Outside of the U.S., it is more common to see stores housed inside of shipping containers. Stacked container designs have also built into shopping malls. In 2011 a pop-up mall called Box Park opened in London and was made entirely from recycled shipping containers.

Sometimes companies will use a container as a temporary store during a remodel, too. That way, the business can continue operating during the construction period.

Vegetable Gardens

In Alaska, farming conditions are not favorable for most vegetables, especially tender ones like lettuces and fresh herbs. These products usually ship in from Seattle or Canada, but that trip adds cost and time to the delivery to stores. Fed up with this process, a couple from the Aleutian Islands bought shipping containers modified into climate-controlled hydroponic gardens. The crop growth has been so successful that they began selling the fresh produce to local restaurants and hotels.

Micro Apartments

When the University of Amsterdam realized a shortage of housing for students in 2004, they created 1000 new “tempohousing” units using stacked 40’ shipping containers. It was a cost-effective, quick way to provide a place for students to live and study.

There are many container apartment projects around the world. Check out this link to see several via Google StreetView.

Tiny Homes

With the rise of the tiny home movement in recent years, shipping containers have become a popular starting point. With the outer structure set, build out the inside to meet your needs, and you’re ready. Take a look at this Texas-based company that is turning containers into stylish, liveable spaces. Looking at the interiors of some of these structures, you’d never know that it used to hold cargo.

It seems that the only limit on how you can use a shipping container is your imagination and creativity.

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