The Future Of Shipping Container Architecture

shipping container

One of the main issues that are cropping up with shipping container architecture is things are often pushed onto recycling being the green solution, then you get greens telling us how toxic the paints are and how transportation is a waste of energy.

The important thing is though if its available and usable its green. If it isn’t and in many cases they aren’t then we are looking at modular construction for buildings which is a more viable method for many uses. I originally worked on this type of system in the late 90s for use in classrooms and clinic construction in the UK as a temporary solution.

Temporary often means a decade as they are generally put into place as an immediate solution while discussions, planning and funding are found for building the main buildings that will replace them. During this time though many of these units would return after years of being in the field and be revamped before sending back out. Which does show the fact they were extremely reliable and resilient to weather. Add to that having slot walling meant that upon return walls would be rejigged to suit the new layout for the building they were becoming. Very little wastage as all windows and doors ended up back in other buildings if not used.

The fact is the shipping container idea developed this new concept which is now fairly old in use but still has a growing market which does appear China is gearing towards the housing industry with.

I can see this being the future of shipping container homes as the dimensions are still in place although the walling systems have been completely redesigned.

Shipping containers for bedspacers or homes in the Philippines


The designs above are by Tempohousing which are sold for around 20,000 Euros they come complete delivered to site, completely fitted out with bathroom, kitchen, heating, electricity, isolation, windows and doors. Via the local brand ‘Keetwonen’, the company last year finished a student village in Amsterdam. It consists of a thousand shipping containers, distributed among 6 apartment buildings.

But I just wanted to show what can be done with a bit of design with a shipping container and on top of that a lot of the facilities on the buildings can be reduced here in the Philippines as they simply aren’t needed which heavily reduces the costs of the construction. This year we are looking to develop several designs for “factory construction” here in Cebu where things will be either made to order or from stock allowing quick transportation of housing. This part of the market is primarily for students, offices and small homes which we look to build on over the forthcoming years to offer a broad variety of designs as well as options on each model.

Football Club Facilities House built from shipping containers

This container conversion was for a Football club who required a building to facilitate both themselves and the away team.

Requirements needed :-

shipping container changing rooms

Due to the location of the of the Changing rooms and shower block security was one of the main priorities of this building as well as not being to undesirable to the eyes which could cause problems with local planning officers especially on a sports field. From personal experience within the UK although most of the time you don’t need planning permission for a “temporary structure” or a garden out building but when it comes to easily seen or easily accessible things start to get more complicated. Anyway back to this project.

shipping container openings cut

Two 40 Foot containers were altered at the company’s workshop in Essex. Which involved removing two sides to give an open area of 40ft x 16ft. Then internal walls and doors were fitted. Externally security shutters,windows and doors were manufactured and also installed.

windows installed in shipping containerAs you can see from the photo the shutters and windows are now installed. Time for the painting to begin.The containers are totally fitted out and then spray painted in house. There are several reasons but the main ones are a controlled environment to work within for painting and installation wise it cuts down on the time spent on site and the number of people and equipment needing sent out to carry out the work.

The large internal shower areas were built to an ‘open plan’ design. This maximises the space and in keeping with sports facility shower blocks.

shower block in shipping containerThe showers heads and controls are all fed from the water tank to eliminate any fluctuations in water temperature or pressure. The showers are in a fully tiled waterproof area of the main shower room.

Site Work Begins

ground works begin on construction site

Preparing the ground before the units arrive is paramount. As you can see from the photograph a simple block foundation was built at the far ends of the container units base.

Crane lifting shipping container

As you can see a large crane was used to deliver the units to site. Not only does it give you the advantage of easily offloading a truck but also the ability to drop the units exactly where you want them. I have also seen movement of containers by using two forklifts one at either far end but on terrain that’s uneven as shown in the photo its unlikely this would be done easily. Although is a much cheaper option unless your hiring cranes regular.

shipping container with covered sides to protect from the elements first shipping container in position

Once the first container is in place and perfectly aligned its quick and easy to drop the second unit in and quickly begin the final stages to construct the new facilities  block.shipping container building begins to take shape

shipping container changing rooms

After the weather proofing and a connection to mains services the units are ready to go. All prefitted to customers requirements.

This building are provided by