You Won't Believe These Shipping Container Transformations

Starbucks, Taiwan

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Hotel Winebox, Valparaiso, Chile
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Abandon Ship (for Architecture)

Shipping container architecture — sometimes called cargotecture — has exploded in recent years, and that growth is expected to continue. One report projects that the residential cargotecture market size will reach more than $73 million by 2025 — up from around $45 million in 2017. But it's not just homes that these steel building blocks are being used to construct. All over the world, repurposed shipping containers serve as hotels, food halls, bars, scientific research stations, and more. These developments and projects around the world break shipping containers out of the purely functional realm and into the fun, funky, and innovative. (Do you know of other cool structures made with shipping containers? Please share them in the comments.)

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Steelcraft Bellflower, Bellflower, California
SteelCraft Bellflower/yelp

Steelcraft Bellflower

Bellflower, California

Located in Los Angeles County, this project's 14 shipping containers form an urban food hall with dining and drinking establishments, gathering spaces, and performance space. Steelcraft opened in 2019 and was designed by Studio One Eleven, which notes that the design "evokes the city’s strong dairy roots."

Related: Unique Tiny Homes Around the World

Starbucks, Taiwan
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Multiple Locations

Starbucks has been repurposing shipping containers for a few years now, with outlets in Wuktila, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City. Part of the company's commitment to opening more sustainable locations, these locations are no doubt cool and creative but pale in comparison to the Kengo Kuma-designed Starbucks store in Taiwan. That structure uses 29 stacked shipping containers to combine cultural elements and colorful wall murals with gathering spaces that afford mountain views.

Related: 16 Things You Didn’t Know About Starbucks

Bharathi Antarctic Research Station, Antarctica
ramboll/bof architekten

Bharathi Antarctic Research Station


This northeastern Antarctic research station, designed by German firm Bof Architekten, was built using 134 shipping containers wrapped in a climate-optimized, aerodynamic metal skin. The structure's top floor contains 24 single and double rooms that serve as living quarters, a kitchen with a dining room, small library, storage and washrooms, a fitness room, offices, and a lounge. Below those are laboratories and other technical spaces.

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ModPools, British Columbia, Canada


British Columbia, Canada

This company uses shipping containers to create in-ground and above-ground swimming pools for the simple reason that "it's repurposing an existing structure," says digital marketing manager Brad Fontaine. The pools, the company website notes, have small footprints, can be set up in minutes, and are portable. They range in size from about 13 to 40 feet in length and range in price from $19,500 to nearly $50,000.

Related: Amazing Hotel Pools Across America

Tiny Urban Escapes, Indianapolis
Tiny Urban Escapes

Tiny Urban Escapes


With five luxury suites — and plans for 10 more — this boutique hotel about 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis is surrounded by greenery. It bills itself as an opportunity to escape the stress of urban life and reconnect with nature. Each shipping container is decorated with high-end finishes that aim to offer "iconic modern design" and a "one-of-a-kind experience." 

Related: Tiny Houses Across the Country for Every Budget

FarmPod, Santa Fe, New Mexico


Santa Fe, New Mexico

This startup launched on Kickstarter in 2014 with the aim of making a sustainable, vertical aquaponic food production system. A 20-foot ground-level shipping container houses fish in tanks, and that water (along with the fish waste) is funneled to a transparent, greenhouse-like second story capable, the company says, of producing 100 pounds of fresh produce each week. Shipping containers, says FarmPod CEO Mike Straight, worked as a building structure that is "strong, shippable by boat/train/truck/crane, able to fit in a parking space, able to be secured, and deployable to almost any location in the world."

The Boxyard, Tucson, Arizona
The Boxyard/yelp

The Boxyard

Tucson, Arizona

It bills itself as "Tucson's most unique bar and eatery," and that's due in no small part to its architecture, which includes 10 vibrantly hued shipping containers arranged to house a combination of restaurants, bars, and courtyard. The 12,000-square-foot development opened in 2019, and patrons love its colorful murals, dog-friendliness, and food choices from burritos and barbecue to Vietnamese and Indian.

Related: Cheers to These Unique Bars in All 50 States

Detroit Shipping Company, Detroit
Sampa M./yelp

Detroit Shipping Company


Another food hall-style development made from multiple shipping containers, the Detroit Shipping Company features two bars, a coffee and ice cream shop, an outdoor stage, two private lounges, galleries for local artists and retailers, and five food truck-style eateries offering everything from tacos, tapas, Caribbean chicken, Thai, poutine, and more.

Ccasa Hostel & Coffee Bar, Nha Trang, Vietnam
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Ccasa Hostel & Coffee Bar

Nha Trang, Vietnam

This Vietnamese hostel just a few blocks away from Nha Trang Bay is built partially from colorful shipping containers. The space features lots of cool, Instagram-worthy design details, including a hanging net where guests can relax. In addition to a cheap place to rest your head for the night, travelers will find, according to one TripAdvisor review, a "friendly host, clean room, (and) peaceful coffee lounge."

Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel, Round Top, Texas
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Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel

Round Top, Texas

Each unit in the Flophouze, which is about an hour and a half southeast of Austin, is a recycled shipping container outfitted with sustainably harvested materials like wood from the owner's upstate New York farm, reclaimed lumber from a Kentucky distillery, windows from a Philadelphia school that was scheduled to be demolished, and kitchen countertops made from Texas bowling alley floors. There are six units for rent, and the property's pool is, fittingly, a ModPool unit.

Hotel Winebox, Valparaiso, Chile
© TripAdvisor

Hotel Winebox

Valparaiso, Chile

Hotel Winebox claims to be South America's first shipping container hotel, using 25 colorful units to form 21 rooms. The property is also an urban winery, and hotel guests are invited to straight-from-the-barrel wine tastings and other wine-making events during spring harvests. The hotel's owners have focused on sustainability in other ways, too, using wine bottles as lamps, fruit crates as kitchen shelving, and filtering and reusing wasted water.

Related: The World's Most Iconic Hotels

Treebo Trend Beach Box Hotel, Goa, India
© TripAdvisor

Treebo Trend Beach Box Hotel

Goa, India

Located near Goa, this hotel is constructed of cargo containers and recycled materials. In addition to its minimalist-chic accommodations, the Beach Box Hotel includes a bar, restaurant, and pool, plus a friendly staff that guests rave about. "I fell in love with the design and the staff was very accommodating to our requests," wrote one traveler on TripAdvisor. "Rooms were neat, clean and big. The whole vibe of the hotel will pull me back to it on my next trip.

Cultiva Headquarters, Jennings, Florida
Eligo Studio/Cultiva

Cultiva Headquarters

Jennings, Florida

Italian furniture and interior design firm Eligo Studio designed this three-story shipping container structure as the U.S. headquarters of global agricultural company Cultiva. The containers are stacked in a way that merges interior offices with outdoor courtyards and terraces, and wide windows and sliding doors let in light at each end. The reflective surfaces on the exterior of the shipping containers are in the shape of the company's logo.

Isla Intersections, Los Angeles
Clifford Beers Housing

Isla Intersections

Los Angeles

This project is a collaboration between nonprofit Clifford Beers Housing, the Annenberg Foundation, the City of Los Angeles, and American Family Housing that, when complete, will provide 53 apartments for people who have experienced homelessness. Clifford Beers Housing's Claire Okeke said that the architecturally striking development, when finished, will include commercial spaces and a park in a long-neglected L.A. neighborhood. She also noted Isla will have "a lot of environmentally green features to mitigate pollution coming from adjacent freeways" — including tree species that help break down contaminants from nearby traffic, and a sustainable gray-water system to help water those trees.

Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort, Gudauri, Georgia
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Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort

Gudauri, Georgia

If the prospect of skiing and yoga set against the striking landscape of Georgia's Gudauri Recreational Area sounds like your kind of vibe, the Quadrum, comprised of stacked, timber-clad shipping containers, might be the place for you. Guests can enjoy a glass of local wine while watching a movie on an outdoor terrace, take a dip in the pool or sweat some toxins out in the sauna, or just take in the stunning surrounding views from their own shipping container suite. TripAdvisor guests say the resort still has some kinks to work out, but the surrounding location looks like it might be worth suffering through a few of those.

Cafe Infinity, Noida, India
RJDL/Cafe Infinity

Cafe Infinity

Noida, India

Indian architecture firm RJDL converted several shipping containers into a figure-8-shaped structure that wraps around two courtyards. It's part of the ITS Dental College campus near Delhi and serves as a recreational space for patients, students, and faculty. The use of shipping containers, says the design firm, "was a perfect fit due to its modularity as well as economic feasibility" and sustainability. The building has viewing decks, lounges, cafes, and playing fields just beyond its doors.