Intermodal containers, also called shipping or cargo containers, are widely used by shipping companies to deliver their goods to businesses around the world. But what happens when these containers are emptied? Rather than sending them back, many innovative people are recycling them in amazing ways. From rejuvenating islands to constructing mobile shops, these shipping containers lend themselves to a wide variety of reuse.
Whether used as a vacation home or a main residence, houses built out of shipping containers are not only environmentally friendly, but also incredibly unique. A well-known example of homes utilizing shipping containers can be found in London – Container City and the University of Utrecht Student Housing are great examples. Both utilize cargo containers in different ways, and both have an incredibly small environmental footprint.
In the Ukraine, inventive builders have created a mall that is two times larger than the Mall of America – using shipping containers! Though their intent wasn’t to be environmentally friendly, that was certainly the outcome. Stacked two stories high, shoppers must climb ladders to get to the upper level. The mall is an example of minimalist design at its best.
An amazing concept was brought to life by artist Joost Bakker; his traveling exhibit is also a restaurant and is made from shipping containers and straw bales. Taking their Eco-consciousness one step further, the restaurant owners grow some of their own food on the rooftop. Talk about fresh produce! The restaurant/exhibit can be disassembled, loaded onto a cargo ship and taken to different parts of the world. It’s a great way to showcase recycling and re-purposing.
Another building that can be found in London, the eight-story Travelodge is a hotel built from 86 shipping containers. The company that built the hotel claims that it was constructed 25% faster than traditional hotels and was 10% cheaper to build.
One plan is in place to not only utilize shipping containers as dwellings but also to reclaim abandoned oil rigs as their platform. Morris Architects has the ambitious plan of combining these rigs and containers to create 80,000,000 square feet of usable living space in waters off the Gulf of Mexico.
Inventive Entrepreneurs, with an eye for a bargain, have created unique office spaces using shipping containers. Additional storage (when you have large lots or acreage) or even a small storefront in a funky neighborhood, or an eye-catching “booth” at a swapmeet or convention site are other business ideas for these contraptions.
A company called Stockbox uses old shipping containers to construct mini grocery stores. Essential foods are sold in urban areas where the population may not have easy access to healthy, affordable food. Milk, grains, meat, fruits and vegetables are all sold in these tiny markets.
Abandoned for over 20 years, Seguin Island, located in France, is being rejuvenated by shipping containers and other materials. Development of the island is to be completed by 2013 and what was once a ‘useless’ island will find new life!
Shipping or cargo containers, once refurbished, make excellent home or work spaces. If you are considering building a new home or a way to expand your business, consider using shipping containers for your project. Not only are they more cost-effective but they are environmentally friendly as well.
Consultant Frank Sanders works with businesses to create new uses for recycled or reclaimed storage containers. Whether you’re thinking about storage containers for rent, or purchasing a recycled one for a personal or business project, you’ll find their many uses inspiring.