Shipping Container Architecture

We are gradually seeing more and more shipping container architecture projects popping up in different locations across the world, as the re-purposing of shipping containers hits high gear.

ISO/freight containers are recognised as having many building qualities including;

  • Strength and security
  • Ability to be cantilevered to dramatic effect
  • Low cost of materials, which are easy to source and transport
  • Modular and easy to customise
  • Cyclone, hurricane and tornado resistant
  • Ease and speed of construction
  • Low maintenance
  • Sustainable

Container Architectural Projects

You'll see that only some of the projects below are housing, but all involved architects and cover a range of uses showing just how versatile shipping containers really are, including examples of sculpture and even a playground!

shipping container architecture - student housing Netherlands

Container Cities - retail, accommodation, hotels and more

There are a few good examples of containers being used on a larger scale for urban spaces.

Examples include:

  • Container City 1 at the Trinity Bay Wharf London


Re:Start Mall in Christchurch

Cholula Container City in Mexico - retail and public space

Shipping Container Hotel - China

Student Housing

There are student container buildings in the Netherlands, Australia, France, and we'll be tracking down more in our explorations

  • Netherlands
  • Australia - ANU stacked shipping container student accommodation in Canberra
  • France


Pavilions, Event and Exhibition Spaces

Events and exhibition spaces have the unique requirement of needing to be mobile, transportable, and fairly easy to set up and then demount. Thus they are perfectly suited to cargo containers.


Weekend Getaways & Off the Grid Homes

These are a popular use of containers because of their ability to be dropped into difficult terrain and then become self-sustainable because of their compact size.

Plenty of great examples of off-the-grid homes.


Emergency Housing

My very first experience of shipping container architecture was an emergency housing prototype built here in Melbourne.

Emergency and relief housing is probably one of the ways that containers can be put to best use, but creating a stock of these relocatable homes, and initial cost is the stumbling block.


Meet the Future Shack - disaster relief housing


Playgrounds, Sculpture and other Abstract Ideas

Cargo containers have already been used in playgrounds, viewing platforms, and as sculptural elements in varied projects. Here's just a few of them..

  • Observatory in Korea
  • Sculpture Taiwan


Skinners Playground in Melbourne, Australia


Office and Retail Spaces

Container companies, amongst others have used shipping containers in their flagship offices as a prime example of the flexibility and usability of containers as a building form.


  • Freitag Shop in Zurich - yes all 11 stories of it!
  • Pallotta Teamworks USA



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