A cargo container generally outlives its usefulness after about five years and then simply sits abandoned in a shipyard. But thanks to its durability, low cost, light weight, and ease of stacking, it can now be recycled for a number of purposes. Containers have been used for homes, hotels, and even office spaces. It seems that the possibilities are endless. Here are just a few interesting ways they’ve been put to use.
Because a cargo container has a simple, boxy shape, it can easily be turned into a small, economic dwelling. It can either serve as a single home or several of them can be stacked to create a larger home consisting of small living spaces. They are very simple to relocate and set up, and can serve as an office, an extra bedroom, or even an art studio. You can knock out a wall and install sliding glass doors to create an even homier feel.
While this type of home may not look like a lot from the outside, with the right amount of creativity this otherwise nondescript box can be turned into a chic living area.
Shipping boxes have also been used as hotels, with the first one built in London in 2008. The 8-story hotel was built from 86 cargo container units that had been modified. According to the builders, the hotel was 10 percent cheaper to construct than conventional buildings, and the job was completed 25 percent faster.
Office and Retail Spaces
There is a huge shopping mall in the Ukraine that is built completely out of old shipping boxes stacked two stories high. Shoppers use narrow ladders to get to stores on the top. There is also a German mall consisting of 55 stacked boxes that is not only functional but also beautiful.
Shipping boxes have been used in Australia to provide children with a safe, fun activity center made of materials that are not only durable, but also environmentally friendly. A children’s center in London features a cargo container that serves as a nursery, with other boxes joined together by staircases and walkways.
As its name would obviously suggest, the Nomadic Museum, designed by a Japanese architect and built in 2002, travels around the world. It is illuminated in a way that makes it appear like a gigantic church at night, and its long hallways are made completely out of shipping boxes. This 45,000-square foot complex has traveled around the world, bringing exhibits of fine art to Italy, the United States, Mexico, China, and several other countries. The Container Art Project also uses several different boxes so that museum curators can take their exhibits wherever they like. These boxes not only display photography, paintings and sculpture, but also interactive art performances.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to simply slap a door on a cargo container and call it a house or museum. However, if you’re creative, you can turn that otherwise drab box into something that will be not only amazing, but also versatile.