Finally, the two things that the U.S. has too many of–Starbucks and shipping containers–have finally combined into one.
Using shipping containers can possibly be a future trend for small businesses (or large businesses that require a small commercial footprint like a Starbucks) for its low cost, its potential for being mobile, and its ability to be placed almost anywhere (think of a coffee shop or a drive-thru grocery stand in a mall parking lot).
I came across this cool shipping container on the St. Louis CNR website. There has been a lot of talk about using shipping containers for apartments and offices, but this is a great example of a shipping container being used for something that can take advantage of the primary goal of the shipping container – mobility. Imagine a restaurant that can be moved and set up wherever there is a crowd. If there’s a baseball game you can set up the restaurant down the block from the stadium, and when the team plays on the road you can set up the restaurant near the local art fair.
There’s been a lot of talk about shipping containers being used as a residence, but not nearly enough about shipping containers being used as offices. I came across this project in Rhode Island that is apparently soon to be built. More examples of this type of approach are Puma City and Container City.
The only things offices and retails spaces need are space to construct the building and space for parking. Both of these are an ample supply thanks to the antiquated zoning ordinances that determine the amount of parking for retail developments and soon-to-be closing car dealerships. Of course there are also the empty lots that are prevalent in most cities as well. These shipping container offices provide a quick means of infilling the no-man’s land we call the asphalt parking lot and begin to create an exterior space more inviting for people.
I know most people are not exactly attracted to the modern industrial aesthetics of the shipping containers, and truthfully I don’t think the aesthetic is appropriate for all applications. I think it works great for Puma City in that it allows the retail function to be cleverly advertised on the exterior facade, but for some of these offices I think it would be perfectly fine to provide an additional layer to allow more insulation in the exterior wall as well as provide a screen so that the sun is beating down on all of that steel.
Despite your stance on the issue of creating buildings with shipping containers, the truth is these containers are an abundant resource in this country. What else are we going to create with them?
Here’s an interesting article about some great examples of people using shipping containers for houses. At the bottom of that article there’s a link to other great examples of shipping containers being used for homes and businesses (I really like the illy push button house, although I’m not too sure how it functions when it rains).
Given the right locale and purpose these shipping containers can provide a viable option for housing people and businesses. And the strategy of implementing these shipping containers should not be limited to the finite size of the container itself. Some of these examples (and these examples)demonstrate that these containers can be used to create and define space larger than just the container itself. Even Bob Vila reveals how you could build a container house within 90 days.
This method is very similar to pre-fabrication construction, whether it’s involving the entire building to be constructed off-site or large pieces being delivered and assembled on the site. Just like any method for creating architecture it doesn’t provide everything to everyone, but it does incorporate the belief and idea of using what we’re given and making the best out of it. The shipping containers are strong enough to ship goods across the world, weather-tight to protect the goods, and are resistant to mold and termites – everything you would want in a home.