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 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.

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.

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

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