Architecture

Gallery: Unboxing the best shipping container architecture

Gallery: Unboxing the best shi...
Made to be Moved, by Arcgency, is a shipping container-based office that can be easily dismantled and moved to another location
Made to be Moved, by Arcgency, is a shipping container-based office that can be easily dismantled and moved to another location
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Custom Container Living's unnamed container house is constructed from a single shipping container that has been extended in height to make room for two lofts
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Custom Container Living's unnamed container house is constructed from a single shipping container that has been extended in height to make room for two lofts
Custom Container Living's unnamed home's additional height allows for this loft bedroom 
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Custom Container Living's unnamed home's additional height allows for this loft bedroom 
Custom Container Living's container home comprises a total floorspace of 312 sq ft (28 sq m) 
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Custom Container Living's container home comprises a total floorspace of 312 sq ft (28 sq m) 
Custom Container Living  increased the container's height by 30-in (76.2 cm)
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Custom Container Living  increased the container's height by 30-in (76.2 cm)
The kitchen area in the Custom Container Living container home
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The kitchen area in the Custom Container Living container home
The Bharathi Indian Polar Station, by bof artchitekten, was built using 134 shipping containers
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The Bharathi Indian Polar Station, by bof artchitekten, was built using 134 shipping containers
The Bharathi Indian Polar Station is India's first base in Antartica
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The Bharathi Indian Polar Station is India's first base in Antartica
The Bharathi Indian Polar Station comprises three stories
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The Bharathi Indian Polar Station comprises three stories
The Bharathi Indian Polar Station must withstand punishing local weather conditions, including wind gusts of up to 200 mph (321 km/h)
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The Bharathi Indian Polar Station must withstand punishing local weather conditions, including wind gusts of up to 200 mph (321 km/h)
The Bharathi Indian Polar Station is located on a peninsula in the Larsmann Hills section of northeast Antarctica
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The Bharathi Indian Polar Station is located on a peninsula in the Larsmann Hills section of northeast Antarctica
Inside the Bharathi Indian Polar Station
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Mill Junction, by South African developer Citiq, serves as inexpensive student digs made from shipping containers in Newtown, Johannesburg
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Mill Junction, by South African developer Citiq, serves as inexpensive student digs made from shipping containers in Newtown, Johannesburg
Mill Junction comprises 10 stories of student housing in old grain silos and an additional four stories in reused shipping containers
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Mill Junction comprises 10 stories of student housing in old grain silos and an additional four stories in reused shipping containers
Mill Junction's containers add a splash of color to the project
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Mill Junction's containers add a splash of color to the project
Inside the Mill Junction student accommodation 
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Inside the Mill Junction student accommodation 
Inside the Mill Junction student accommodation
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Inside the Mill Junction student accommodation
Made to be Moved, by Arcgency, is a shipping container-based office that can be easily dismantled and moved to another location
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Made to be Moved, by Arcgency, is a shipping container-based office that can be easily dismantled and moved to another location
Made to be Moved consists of three floors of shipping containers 
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Made to be Moved consists of three floors of shipping containers 
Copenhagen's Arcgency gets shipping container-based architecture right with its Made to be Moved project
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Copenhagen's Arcgency gets shipping container-based architecture right with its Made to be Moved project
Arcgency reports that Made to be Moved only requires a modest amount of heating in winter for a building of its type
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Arcgency reports that Made to be Moved only requires a modest amount of heating in winter for a building of its type
Made to be Moved comprises three stories of stacked containers
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Made to be Moved comprises three stories of stacked containers
Made to be Moved has a total floorspace of 660 sq m (7,104 sq ft)
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Made to be Moved has a total floorspace of 660 sq m (7,104 sq ft)
Made to be Moved features used shipping containers – complete with dents – that have been painted grey to produce a uniform look
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Made to be Moved features used shipping containers – complete with dents – that have been painted grey to produce a uniform look
Made to be Moved was located on an expensive plot in Nordhavnen at time of writing, but there were plans to move it to another site in the near future
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Made to be Moved was located on an expensive plot in Nordhavnen at time of writing, but there were plans to move it to another site in the near future
The Contenedores Franceschi project, by Re Arquitectura and DAO, consists of three recycled 40 ft long cube shipping container
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The Contenedores Franceschi project, by Re Arquitectura and DAO, consists of three recycled 40 ft long cube shipping container
The Contenedores Franceschi homes comprise two floors
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The Contenedores Franceschi homes comprise two floors
The Contenedores Franceschi project is passively cooled, which is no mean feat in sunny Costa Rica
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The Contenedores Franceschi project is passively cooled, which is no mean feat in sunny Costa Rica
The Contenedores Franceschi project is located on a plot near a river in Santa Ana, Costa Rica
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The Contenedores Franceschi project is located on a plot near a river in Santa Ana, Costa Rica
In a nice touch, the scrap materials resulting from the Contenedores Franceschi project were put to good use as furniture, such as lamps and handrails, door handles, bath accessories, and planters
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In a nice touch, the scrap materials resulting from the Contenedores Franceschi project were put to good use as furniture, such as lamps and handrails, door handles, bath accessories, and planters
Contenedores Franceschi's sewage system uses a double-stage septic tank with a filter that allows the treatment of all wastewater that is then drained into the ground
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Contenedores Franceschi's sewage system uses a double-stage septic tank with a filter that allows the treatment of all wastewater that is then drained into the ground
The Contenedores Franceschi homes include some nice semi-outdoor areas like a rear deck, balcony, and porch
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The Contenedores Franceschi homes include some nice semi-outdoor areas like a rear deck, balcony, and porch
The Contenedores Franceschi homes are placed in the shade and cooled by the prevailing breeze
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The Contenedores Franceschi homes are placed in the shade and cooled by the prevailing breeze
Athens, Greece-based firm Cocoon Modules offers an attractive take on the shipping container house with this eponymous dwelling
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Athens, Greece-based firm Cocoon Modules offers an attractive take on the shipping container house with this eponymous dwelling
Topped by a green roof and able to run on or off-the-grid, the Cocoon Modules  container house can also be expanded in size to suit customers' needs
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Topped by a green roof and able to run on or off-the-grid, the Cocoon Modules  container house can also be expanded in size to suit customers' needs
Cocoon Modules' shipping container house has a total floorspace of 320 sq ft (29.7 sq m) as standard
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Cocoon Modules' shipping container house has a total floorspace of 320 sq ft (29.7 sq m) as standard
Cocoon Modules will expand the home at extra cost by joining additional containers to it, either atop each other or side by side (this will no doubt require cutting and welding the containers together)
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Cocoon Modules will expand the home at extra cost by joining additional containers to it, either atop each other or side by side (this will no doubt require cutting and welding the containers together)
Cocoon Modules' home is accessed by large sliding glass doors
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Cocoon Modules' home is accessed by large sliding glass doors
The interior finish, furniture and layout in the Cocoon Modules home looks to be of a high standard
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The interior finish, furniture and layout in the Cocoon Modules home looks to be of a high standard
The Bjarke Ingels Group recently used recycled shipping containers to produce a sustainable floating housing prototype for Copenhagen students called Urban Rigger
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The Bjarke Ingels Group recently used recycled shipping containers to produce a sustainable floating housing prototype for Copenhagen students called Urban Rigger
The Copenhagen Urban Rigger project comprises nine recycled shipping containers arranged on a floating base in the city's harbor
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The Copenhagen Urban Rigger project comprises nine recycled shipping containers arranged on a floating base in the city's harbor
Urban Rigger includes a total of 680 sq m (7,319 sq ft) of floorspace
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Urban Rigger includes a total of 680 sq m (7,319 sq ft) of floorspace
Urban Rigger gets power from a roof-based solar array
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Urban Rigger gets power from a roof-based solar array
Urban Rigger's available space is split between housing, a common winter garden/courtyard, kayak landing point, bathing platform, BBQ area, and seating
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Urban Rigger's available space is split between housing, a common winter garden/courtyard, kayak landing point, bathing platform, BBQ area, and seating
Studio Edwards recently completed an interesting take on the shipping container house with this project in Wye River, Victoria, named House 28
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Studio Edwards recently completed an interesting take on the shipping container house with this project in Wye River, Victoria, named House 28
House 28, by Studio Edwards, is used as a weekend retreat and features a green roof and rainwater collection system
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House 28, by Studio Edwards, is used as a weekend retreat and features a green roof and rainwater collection system
House 28 comprises three 20 ft (6.1 m)-long shipping containers connected together
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House 28 comprises three 20 ft (6.1 m)-long shipping containers connected together
House 28's exterior is covered in insulation and clad in galvanized steel sheeting, lending it a distinctive appearance
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House 28's exterior is covered in insulation and clad in galvanized steel sheeting, lending it a distinctive appearance
House 28 juts out from a hillside on steel stilts and its northern-facing facade has fixings attached for plants to grow
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House 28 juts out from a hillside on steel stilts and its northern-facing facade has fixings attached for plants to grow
The interior decor of House 28 is very simple and utilitarian 
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The interior decor of House 28 is very simple and utilitarian 
The interior of House 28 is finished in marine-grade plywood
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The interior of House 28 is finished in marine-grade plywood
A pair of joined containers serve as House 28's main living space, which includes a couch, toilet, laundry room, and entry area
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A pair of joined containers serve as House 28's main living space, which includes a couch, toilet, laundry room, and entry area
A third container includes House 28's two bedrooms
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A third container includes House 28's two bedrooms
Perhaps the most obvious architectural use of a shipping container is to turn one into a tiny house, like the Vista C, by Escape
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Perhaps the most obvious architectural use of a shipping container is to turn one into a tiny house, like the Vista C, by Escape
The Vista C is made from a standard metal shipping container measuring 20 ft (6 m)-long and 8 ft (2.4 m)-wide
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The Vista C is made from a standard metal shipping container measuring 20 ft (6 m)-long and 8 ft (2.4 m)-wide
The Vista C can come either on a trailer or be placed on foundations
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The Vista C can come either on a trailer or be placed on foundations
The Vista C's options include the color, a rooftop deck, and full off-grid capability with solar power and composting toilet
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The Vista C's options include the color, a rooftop deck, and full off-grid capability with solar power and composting toilet
The Vista C starts at US$46,600
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The Vista C starts at US$46,600
Water Sports Center Halsskov, by Sweco, is located in a former ferry port in Korsør, Denmark
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Water Sports Center Halsskov, by Sweco, is located in a former ferry port in Korsør, Denmark
Water Sports Center Halsskov's most defining feature is a diving tower made from three recycled shipping containers
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Water Sports Center Halsskov's most defining feature is a diving tower made from three recycled shipping containers
Water Sports Center Halsskov also includes a building with toilets, changing room, storage and outdoor showers
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Water Sports Center Halsskov also includes a building with toilets, changing room, storage and outdoor showers
Water Sports Center Halsskov's changing rooms are lined with low-maintenance heat-treated sustainably-sourced wood
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Water Sports Center Halsskov's changing rooms are lined with low-maintenance heat-treated sustainably-sourced wood

On the face of it, shipping container-based architecture can seem like a pretty bad idea. The metal boxes are cramped, offer no insulation, and often require heavy modification to be of any use. That said, limitation occasionally proves fertile ground for innovation, as evidenced by the imaginative shipping container projects that we're highlighting here.

The most obvious architectural use of a shipping container is probably to turn it into a house. There are a lot of these around but one of the most high-profile tiny house firms to throw its hat into the ring is Escape with its Vista C, which can come either on a trailer for easy towing or just be placed on foundations.

The Vista C is made from a standard metal shipping container measuring 20 ft (6 m)-long and 8 ft (2.4 m)-wide
The Vista C is made from a standard metal shipping container measuring 20 ft (6 m)-long and 8 ft (2.4 m)-wide

The Contenedores Franceschi project, in Costa Rica, was designed for a family who wanted their three adult sons to enjoy the independence of living in their own homes but remain close by. It consists of three recycled shipping containers that have been slotted into a larger structure to create a trio of appealing homes.

Contenedores Franceschi's sewage system uses a double-stage septic tank with a filter that allows the treatment of all wastewater that is then drained into the ground
Contenedores Franceschi's sewage system uses a double-stage septic tank with a filter that allows the treatment of all wastewater that is then drained into the ground

India's National Center For Antarctic And Ocean Research commissioned bof artchitekten to build a base in Antarctica made from 134 shipping containers wrapped in an insulating skin. The Bharathi Indian Polar Station withstands winds of up to 200 mph (321 km/h), and temperatures reaching minus 40° F (minus 40° C). It's designed to be easily disassembled and removed without leaving a trace when its operational life comes to an end.

The Bharathi Indian Polar Station is India's first base in Antartica
The Bharathi Indian Polar Station is India's first base in Antartica

Head to the gallery to see more information on these projects, as well as our other picks – including houses, offices, and more.

1 comment
Wombat56
One thing I've always wanted to know, after the extensive modifications needed to make a container habitable, are they really any cheaper? For example: replace the floor, insulate for both noise and temperature, cut out walls for multiple container buildings and then install a smooth transition between them, install electrical and water/sewage and maybe gas utilities, windows and doors etc.