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Buildings of The Future: Innovative Container Designs

  • Design
28th April 2021

We have recently seen a great rise in the number of buildings that are being created using storage boxes. There are many reasons why more and more people are looking to convert the metal box, originally designed for the unglamorous task of carrying cargo on ships and lorries around the world, to become a stunning, innovative, new building. Reasons for this include the fact that it can be an environmentally friendlier way to construct, as well as offer a high amount of flexibility to architects and designers.

We are seeing more and more people using shipping units as a construction material, creating anything from basic modular accommodation units to water treatment plant rooms and site offices. However, alongside these relatively simple conversions, we are also seeing more and more innovative, unusual, and unique designs.

Innovative Design Ideas for Conversions

Available in a range of different dimensions, this means that they can be used separately or joined together in unusual ways to create the perfect design for your needs. Whether you are using a single 10ft units, or several 40ft high cube units, you have a great deal of flexibility over what you do with them. They work effectively like building blocks for giants.

They can be joined together both horizontally and vertically, but they can also be arranged in other innovative ways. The Wahaca restaurant project uses eight containers that are interlinked to create a series of inside spaces in an innovative way, serving the needs of the restaurant.

We have also seen constructions incorporating a cantilever approach as well as connecting at angles to give a different visual effect and different views from the inside of the construction.

A Blank Canvas

One of the most exciting things about using cargo units to construct a building is that architects and designers really have a blank canvas to work with. As well as joining together several units, they can also be opened up with large windows and doors, allowing you to bring the outside in and controlling the amount of natural light that can come in.

This viewing platform for Star Events involves the use of a large window to boost the viewing experience for guests, for example.

The blank canvas of a freight unit can also be used to experiment with different cladding and textures as well as the professional painting of different colours – making it as colourful as you wish – or not as the case may be! Professional painting can also include company branding if it is required.

Green Buildings

With the world population becoming increasingly aware of its impact on the environment, we are seeing more and more units being used to create green buildings. They are a great way of using units that would otherwise go to waste, and they can also easily be adapted to heighten their green credentials.

Containers, in their most basic form, are not eco-friendly. However, there is plenty that designers and architects are doing to make them so.

To start off with, converted projects are made pre-fab – in a factory – before they are delivered to the site. This means that energy is saved in unnecessary traffic and time spent on-site, and many elements are made by machine meaning that there is less wastage of materials.

The conversion can be clad or have an insulating lining applied to prevent heat and cold from getting in or out. However, to make the converted unit well insulated, designers are using natural materials such as straw or hemp, or other locally sourced materials. A storage unit easily allows for the entire ‘box’ to be insulated – on all sides – not just the walls, but also the roof and the floor.

Opening up an entire side of your unit can help to allow as much natural light in as possible, reducing the amount of electrical lighting that is required. These large windows can be double or triple-glazed to ensure that they don’t allow for additional heat transfer or draughts.

Solar panels, wind turbines, or hydro energy harvesting systems can also be fitted as power sources for some or all of the time (depending on where the building is based and how much energy is required).

Roof gardens are also easy to create as the roof space is flat, and on a single story building, not very high, and this is a technique that is being used increasingly by green architectural innovators.

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