Creative and Innovative Uses for Shipping Containers

“Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.”- Yoshio Taniguchi

The freight transport industry is growing exponentially due to the rate at which international business is currently conducted. Additionally, the fast rate at which the global infrastructure is growing in regions like the AsiaPacific is also adding value to the freight transport industry. For example, in order to improve the infrastructure in these areas, goods and equipment need to be transported to their destination via road, sea, and rail.

Additionally, the increase in the demand for shipping containers has led to the development of logistics companies who rent and sell containers to clients who need to ship their goods across the world.

Shipping or intermodal containers

Shipping containers are not only used as a means to transport goods and equipment from their source to destination, but they also have creative and innovative uses. Before we look at a few innovations that have been designed using these intermodal containers, let’s have a look at what the definition of a container is:

A shipping or intermodal container is essentially a large standardized, 20-foot or 40-foot container that is designed and built for the freight transport industry. In other words, these containers are used across different modes of transport such as ship, rail, and truck, without unloading and reloading the cargo that needs to be moved from source to destination.

Intermodal containers: Creative and innovative uses

Shipping container homes

These containers are ideal for building prefabricated homes. Because they are interlocking, they can be safely and securely stacked on top of each other without falling over and breaking. The global ISO standards state that a shipping container’s corner posts should be tested to a load of 86 metric tons.

An excellent example of an apartment block of shipping container homes is the Keetwonen (student housing) project in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Because these homes are removable and portable to a certain extent, they are also used as refugee homes in Germany as well as homeless shelters in the UK. The key takeaway point here is that they are self-contained, can be stacked on top of one another, and they can be moved to a new location when necessary.

Schools and office blocks

Intermodal containers are used as schools and office buildings in poorer regions where the traditional building costs are prohibitive. Additionally, renewable energy sources such as solar power panels can be added to the roof of the school buildings to power the school. A significant advantage of using shipping containers to construct schools and offices is that they can be modified off site and shipped as a complete unit to their destination.

Emergency hospitals

The existing hospitals in war-torn and natural disaster (earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.) are often destroyed in the process. Therefore, the ability to convert a shipping container into a mobile hospital, complete with power generation and water purification functionality, and to ship them where mobile hospitals are needed, goes a long way towards helping the injured survivors and victims.

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