The Second Lives of Shipping Containers

Steel shipping containers are built to carry heavy loads, be stackable and withstand the elements. But despite being so adaptable and durable, they used to be frequently abandoned once they would outlive their utility as cargo carriers. This is mostly in the past though. These days, a lot of people see potential in these containers and are repurposing them for various functions, including the following:


Shipping containers have simple but workable shapes and spacious interiors, making them highly suitable for housing projects. Smaller homes can be made out of one container, or they can also be stacked to form larger houses. Stacking can also turn them into multi-family complexes and even gardens for these homes.

Since container homes are usually easier to build than regular housing, they are considerably more affordable. They are also strong and durable, capable of withstanding harsh climates and even natural disasters.

Hotels and dormitory

Aside from permanent housing, shipping containers can be turned into lodgings for travelers and transients. Container hotels are gaining global traction, and educational facilities are addressing demands for student housing by building container dormitories.

Shipping containers can be refurbished into entire suites, bedrooms, bathrooms and even kitchens. And should administrators decide to relocate a container dormitory, it can be easily dismantled, transported and reassembled at a different site on campus.

Storage and sheds

shipping container repurposed

A shipping container is designed to store cargo during transport overseas, so using containers for storage on land would not be unusual. What makes them ideal as storage structures on land are their portability and the built-in security features, particularly their steel frames and specialized locksets. It is also easy to make a shipping container shed just by opening one up and designing it to suit your needs, or by adding a container-mounted shed to stacks of shipping containers to make a shed for larger vehicles like buses and trucks.

Swimming pools

Due to their size and shape, shipping containers are also ideal and affordable materials for in-ground and above ground swimming pools. Setting them up is fairly easy, and they can come with various modifications as well. Above-ground shipping container pools can be outfitted with windows which expose at least one side of the pool. Some companies also offer container pools with jets, lighting and temperature that can be adjusted via smartphone.

Restaurants and pop-up businesses

Shipping containers are not difficult to customize and expand, qualities that make them attractive for retail businesses that are ready for expansion or are open temporarily for seasonal sales. Should a business want to move to a more profitable location, relocating a shipping container would not be much of a hassle either; construction time would not be very long, and decorating the container would be easy.

If you are thinking of purchasing a shipping container for your home or business, you will find them very cost-effective and accessible; they can be bought from warehouses, ports and even on the Internet. Availability would not be an issue either, as there are literally millions of empty shipping containers scattered throughout the world. Giving a shipping container a second life is not only convenient and practical, it would also save the environment from a lot of waste.