Shipping containers: who would have thought it?

The new opening of a shopping centre in Seoul might not be shocking news, but what if I tell you that this centre is entirely built with shipping containers? It’s called the “Common Group” and is a new concept distribution platform, made by linking 200 shipping containers!!

Shipping containers have some advantages regarding the construction of infrastructures, as they can be adopted for fast modular building, they are inexpensive and they are strong and secure. On the other hand, they also have some disadvantages: they need to be significantly insulated and protected against condensation.

When it comes to the logistics industry, we see shipping containers as a chunk of steel that store goods, in uninspiring colours (boring!), lacking any other purpose. Nevertheless, there are many people out there that can create beautiful and innovative structures, using only shipping containers whose destiny was to be waste!!

Although shipping containers have been used for construction on several occasions and there are very well known examples, it has never quite entered the mainstream. Throughout this article, you will find out some creative uses for shipping containers, with real examples.


Everybody have a vague idea of what shipping containers are for. They are used to store and transport wine, toys or millions of other products. But, could they be used to “house” human life? In East London, Becky McGahern has gone one step beyond the creativity, building an entire housing estate with shipping containers. With a budget below £50,000

Benjamin Garcia Saxe ratifies McGarhern’s argument, with the “Containers of Hope” project. He designed a studio/house in San José (USA) with the staggeringly budget of just $40,000! The total cost was even lower than social housing cost in the nearby area, and obtaining a luxury-like finishing.This studio/retreat is designed to be used as a weekend getaway come guesthouse and was made using a single 40 foot container. However, its designer Jim Poteet, has managed to fit inside it a lounge, bathroom and tiny kitchen/worktop area.


The company “G-Pod” has gone a step even further, creating a sustainable and transportable “house” that uses solar energy as main combustible and can store a garden/orchard on the roof. Watch this impressive video to see how it works.

Camping hut

Joel worked for Hybrid Arc, a construction enterprise in USA.  He had to build a camping hut in Washington, but he wanted to innovate and created something that was eco-friendly. He had the idea of using a shipping container to build the hut, and this is the incredible result! The camping container was built using a 20 foot shipping container and can be used by a family of four.

Swimming pool

Why didn’t we come up with this idea before? It’s brilliant! Stefan Beese is the author of this engineering miracle and these are the steps to follow if you want to build your own swimming pool:

The container needs to be cleaned and coated in paint, which will stop the container corroding. It can be partially buried in the garden/land. Once the container is in its place, it needs to be coated with foam insulation  and a pool liner… eeeh voila!! Hey presto!! A swimming pool.


In September 2010, an earthquake measuring 7.1 hit the NZ city and resulted in over 180 deaths and wide spread destruction of local buildings. As building with conventional material was difficult and expensive after the disaster, the Hummingbird coffee was built with two shipping containers from a destroyed factory. Inspiring, eh?

The Chaiwalla & Co. is Malaysia’s first container cafe.  This  cute spot opened late 2013 and has been a popular destination for tourist in the nearby area. I personally love the design!


Well, this might not seem a realistic idea, until you meet our friends from “SOAK” in San Francisco. The project wants to reuse shipping containers and turn them into portal spas that can be moved around and transported to other locations on demand. They are serious about environmental issues and comes complete with solar panels and a greywater collection system. It hasn’t been invented yet, and they are looking for investors!

QCS UK compromise

It is certain that recycling and reusing materials is a cost effective and environmentally friendly practice that can have a positive impact in our society.  Who knew that shipping containers could have such inspiring and amazing uses! A project for the future, self build with a difference. Who knows, maybe the next QCS UK Office could be built entirely with shipping containers…