Seven Surprising Uses for Shipping Containers


Over time, shipping containers have inspired remarkable creativity beyond their primary function of transporting goods. Individuals are increasingly recognizing the versatility of containers as a construction material, capable of yielding diverse creations. From swimming pools to art studios, the potential applications of containers are boundless, limited only by one's imagination. Here are seven unexpected and intriguing uses of shipping containers that may astonish you.

1. Swimming Pool


How delightful would it be to have a backyard pool crafted from a container! Unlike conventional above-ground pools, which can be flimsy, a shipping container pool offers strength, durability, and the convenience of transportability (once water is drained) akin to regular shipping containers. Additionally, their elongated, narrow shape renders them ideal for swimming laps.

Container pools are typically treated with a sealant or lined to prevent water from contacting the steel walls. Naturally, standard pool equipment such as pumps and filters are necessary, although the specific requirements may vary depending on the chosen pool chemicals and system.

While it is feasible to partially or fully bury a container pool, this presents challenges akin to burying a container itself. Alternatively, some owners opt to construct an elevated deck around their container pool, offering the same benefits (a walkable area level with the water) without the inherent issues associated with burial.

2. Medical Compound


The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery is located just beyond the outskirts of Khartoum, Sudan, in proximity to the Nile River. This establishment boasts 63 patient beds and employs a workforce of 300 locals, all within a structure constructed using traditional methods. Adjacent to it, a residential area for international staff was ingeniously fashioned from 90 20-foot containers, with each room utilizing one and a half containers. Additionally, a cafeteria area was fashioned from seven 40-foot containers. Originally, containers were not part of the initial design plan. However, architects spotted empty containers previously used to transport building materials to the construction site and were inspired to incorporate them into the facility's structure.

3. Restaurant


Wahaca, a Mexican eatery situated in London, boasts several locations scattered throughout the city. One in particular, nestled within the Southbank Center, piqued our interest as it was ingeniously constructed using eight shipping containers. Notably, one of these containers has been transformed into a street stall, allowing patrons to conveniently grab their food on the go.

The restaurant, which appears to be an Anglicized rendition of the Spanish word "Oaxaca," is renowned for its authentic Mexican flavors, now complemented by exceptional architecture and design. Diners have the option to dine within the shipping containers, each equipped with expansive glass windows offering captivating views of the Thames River, or enjoy their meal al fresco. Inside, the restaurant is adorned with recycled benches, further enhancing the upcycled theme.

4. Hotel


The Container Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia proudly embraces its origins. Shipping containers take center stage in the property's design and serve as the foundational elements for numerous rooms and facilities spanning multiple levels and spaces.

5. School


Yet another intriguing application of shipping containers is as a school. Montessori La Milpa, located in Ensenada, Mexico, along the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula, is a prime example. This school is constructed using shipping containers for their durability and low maintenance requirements. Situated near the ocean, the school benefits from refreshing sea breezes and a temperate climate. For further details about this unique educational institution, we encourage you to peruse our interview with the founder.

6. Art Studio


It's a rarity to encounter an art studio that rivals the quality of the artwork it houses. Andrea Shapiro commissioned the construction of this impressive 840-square-foot art studio adjacent to her residence in Amagansett, New York, intending it to serve as both a creative sanctuary and a gallery space for her creations.

7. An Office


Pallotta Team Works, an event management and production company based in the Los Angeles area, specializes in assisting charities with fundraising activities. As their operations expanded, they sought to accommodate their growth by acquiring a large warehouse space. However, budget constraints precluded them from undertaking a traditional office interior build-out.

Instead, they opted for a creative solution: utilizing shipping containers as offices within the warehouse. Additionally, tents were erected between the containers to serve as workspaces for various departments. These tents are equipped to channel conditioned air to the workspaces, allowing for comfortable working conditions without the need to climate-control the open areas of the warehouse. This innovative approach has resulted in significant savings on utility bills.

8. Bonus: Starbucks!