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7 Unique Uses for Shipping Containers

by Kathleen Donohoe

With recycling and sustainability, the norm these days, people are finding more innovative and inventive ways to use shipping containers after their primary use of transporting goods all around the world. We’ve collated a variety of the most unique uses for shipping containers aside from the latest trends of homes, hotels, and malls!

  1. Children’s Playgrounds

In Melbourne, Australia a group of abandoned shipping containers have been turned into an activity centre primarily for children by PHOOEY Architects Pty Ltd. The containers were stacked, sliced and cut before being assembled into this outstanding outdoor space. The containers have created both indoor and outdoor rooms, including a multi-function room lined with carpeted floor and walls. The roof of the containers have been utilised as seating areas and each wall has been insulated for comfort. This play area is totally sustainable, with every material used either scavenged or recycled, and costs were kept down by not repainting the exterior of the containers.

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2. Pop Up Greenhouse Restaurant

In 2011, in the heart of Sydney popped up a sustainable restaurant made with shipping container façade as the start of a world tour. The Greenhouse by Joost operated for 8 weeks as a temporary restaurant and bar to promote sustainable construction techniques and operational processes. In truly unique style, the entire building was made from recycled and recyclable materials, and it creates no waste, as all food scraps are composted on site, with herbs, fruit & vegetables grown on the roof. Everything is supplied in reusable containers, and all furniture, tableware and design coming from repurposed materials about to be thrown away – like the herringbone floor, created from an abandoned industrial conveyor belt. Genius!

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3. Bridges – for people and vehicles!

In the districts of Hoorn and Gorinchem, in the Netherlands; and Dusseldorf, Germany; there are some architecturally designed bridges popping up to get both people and vehicles over the canals and rivers. One of the benefits of using shipping containers as bridges – automatically covered public walking spaces!

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4. Grandstands

Need removable seating or seating for around 100 people? There are pre-fabricated modules made from shipping containers that can be delivered in an instant by side loader or HIAB, and taken away in an instant. These container modules also can be quickly and easily packed up and covered to protect from the climate, no matter the weather.

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5. Shipping Container Art

What better way to show off the features and size of a shipping container than with a large scale art installation in a public place? The City of Fremantle in Western Australia commissioned a piece entitled ‘Rainbow’, which features 9 shipping containers, all painted in individually bright colours similar to a rainbow. The arch stands as the entry statement artwork into Fremantle, standing at 10m high, and was created and installed by local businesses.

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6. Shipping Container Sauna

Mostly found in the colder parts of the world, a shipping container sauna generally is made from the smaller types of containers, like a 10ft or 20ft. They also feature things like: insulation, wood panelling, wood fired stoves and stove pipe coming out of the roof. As the designs are updated, there are new features that are becoming more common like solar panels and stereo system abilities.

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7. Swimming Pools

The swimming pool made from shipping containers is a trend that has taken off in the last few years, however the unique thing about them is they are constantly improving and becoming more than just another backyard pool. One such instance of this is a Canadian company who creates Pools with Jacuzzis that can be installed below or above ground, and use unique design features like cut out clear sections in walls to see the water and/or swimmers. After procuring the containers from China, and having the containers used to ship cargo first, the husband and wife team then add a heavy duty pool coping to the top edge, to give the walls strength to hold 18,000 litres of water. They also offer you the choice of colour changing LED lighting and eight jacuzzi jets; and all pools come with a sanitation and heating system – all of which can be controlled by your smartphone or tablet.

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