12 Creative Uses for a Shipping Container

1. Theaters

Repurposing shipping containers into open theaters or bistros has become an increasingly popular trend. Although shipping containers cannot be used in this manner for extended periods or all year long, they do provide a creative entertainment space for people to gather in warm weather conditions. 

2. Schools

In certain parts of the world where constructing a traditional structure for education can be too expensive, shipping containers have been used in many cases. Multiple containers can be used within one main area to provide separate classrooms within an entire educational facility.

3. Restaurants

Another innovative trend is to use shipping containers as restaurants, particularly in areas with little square footage, to create a more traditional restaurant space. There are a number of famous examples of restaurants created from shipping containers, including SnackBox in New York’s Times Square and MuvBox in Montreal, Canada.

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4. Homes

Multiple shipping containers can be utilized to build quite large, spacious homes. There have even been entire communities built from shipping containers. Many of these structures are quite eco-friendly, as they can use the flat roof structure as a base for solar panels.

5. Offices

Using shipping containers as office spaces are another creative way to take advantage of potential spatial restraints. Shipping containers have been modified for use as office spaces. When constructed in a stacked manner, they can actually be quite productive and spacious.

6. Emergency Hospitals

Shipping containers have been increasingly used as emergency centers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, shipping containers have been utilized as both testing centers and vaccination sites. Shipping containers were placed in parking lots of shopping centers and pharmacies in response to the growing demand for COVID testing and vaccinations.

7. Portable Toilets

Shipping containers have long been repurposed as portable toilets. These containers make for suitable, movable toilets to help maintain sanitation and proper hygiene. Shipping containers can often be found used in this manner at special events or outdoor venues.

8. Stores

Another popular trend is to utilize shipping containers for retail purposes. When placed next to each other in a horizontal fashion, shipping containers allow for a unique shopping experience in urban centers and areas without enough space for permanent structures.

9. Studios

Many creative individuals and artists opt to use shipping containers as their personal workspaces. They allow for a spacious studio space, and the containers can often double as an art gallery that can be visited by the public with works of art on display.

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10. Disaster Shelters

In times of emergency, shipping containers have been utilized by emergency organizations to house displaced individuals. Shipping containers are often preferred over other mobile structures because of their reliability and extreme durability.

11. Swimming Pools

Though it is not as common as some of the other uses, some shipping containers have been used as swimming pools for homes or communities. Some of the larger shipping containers make excellent swimming pools due to their durable structure and depth.

12. Laboratories

Shipping containers are an ideal size and have enough space to be used as testing laboratories for both educational and medical purposes. The New York office of architecture studio Grimshaw designed a number of the COVID-19 mobile testing units from former shipping containers. The spaces included laboratories for analyzing test results or testing clinics with full examination rooms.