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June 10, 2014
They’re not just for global shipping anymore: These creative adaptations think inside the box.
Bharathi Research Station in Antarctica
Bharathi Research Station (Antarctica)

Resembling a space station from a vintage ‘60s sci-fi film, this incredible creation by Germany’s BOF Architects inhabits another extreme environment, a coastal hillside on the bottom of the globe. Built to house researchers from India, this structure is easily removable to lessen environmental impact.

Photo by BOF Architects

1 / 10
Shipping container treehouse in Jerusalem, Israel
Treehouse (Jerusalem, Israel)

Literally a growing structure—two pines grow through porches on either end of the rustic home—this treehouse by Golany Architects provides a stark contrast to the industrial aesthetic often associated with shipping container construction.

Photo by Golany Architects

2 / 10
Decameron in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Decameron (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Architects Marcio Kogan and Mariana Simas of Studio MK27 turned an empty urban alley into a neon-drenched retreat, complete with a small garden, by repurposing shipping containers.

Photo by Pedro Vannucchi

3 / 10
CC4441 art gallery in Tokyo, Japan
CC4441 (Tokyo, Japan)

Tomokazu Hayakawa sliced and stacked two black containers to create an angular art gallery and office space in the Taito district.

Photo by Kuniaki Sasage

4 / 10
Shipping Container Home in Brisbane, Australia
Shipping Container Home (Brisbane, Australia)

Architect and designer Todd Miller didn’t just use a shipping container for this home—it appears like he used an entire shipping company, since it took 31 containers to build this industrial but inviting home, which features a massive graffiti mural on the back wall.

Photo by ZieglerBuild

5 / 10
Container Bar in Austin, Texas
Container Bar (Austin, Texas)

Years in the making, this stacked watering hole on Austin’s Rainey street has been a huge hit since opening earlier this year, and a soon-to-follow food truck should only bring in more business (and make it more spatially similar). While tap beer is often prefered, this seems like a rare time when canned beer might make more sense.

Photo by North Arrow Studio

6 / 10
New Jerusalem Orphanage in Johannesburg, South Africa
New Jerusalem Orphanage (Johannesburg, South Africa)

4D and A Architects used more than two dozen containers to help give this institution a more expansive, and inexpensive, home. Beyond the incredible service this structure provides, the use of space and the varied angles of each container give it a compelling modernist look.

Photo by Dennis Guichard

7 / 10
Starbucks Drive-Thru in Chicago, Illinois
Starbucks Drive-Thru (Chicago, Illinois)

This demi-sized, 700-square-foot coffee shop in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood is one of a growing number of modular experiments from the big chain. This LEED-certified structure is hopefully a play towards better building practices as opposed to a means to plop a store on any available space.

8 / 10
WFH House in Wuxi, China
WFH House (Wuxi, China)

Copenhagen-based Arcgency made something special out of a rigid skeleton of shipping containers—a gorgeous, bamboo-clad modular home that offers stylish customization options and environmental features (solar cells, water cistern, green roof) that push this project beyond mere recycling.

Photo by Arcgenvy

9 / 10
Mill Junction Student Housing in Johannesburg, South Africa
Mill Junction Student Housing (Johannesburg, South Africa)

The developers at Citiq decided to one-up anybody reclaiming and reusing building material by fashioning an 11-story dorm out of shipping containers and abandoned grain silos. This colorful space near the city’s central business district accommodates nearly 400 students in a mish-mash of metal shapes.

Photo by Citiq

10 / 10
Bharathi Research Station in Antarctica
Bharathi Research Station (Antarctica)

Resembling a space station from a vintage ‘60s sci-fi film, this incredible creation by Germany’s BOF Architects inhabits another extreme environment, a coastal hillside on the bottom of the globe. Built to house researchers from India, this structure is easily removable to lessen environmental impact.

Photo by BOF Architects

At this moment, there are more than 17 million steel intermodal shipping containers floating or riding across the globe—rectangular, bland engines of global commerce filled with anything and everything you can imagine. While there’s a certain fascination with all these small links in the global supply chain slowly making their way around the world—each identified with its own ISO 6346 number, an odd commercial shorthand—here at Dwell, we’re even more amazed by what happens when the trip ends and reconstruction and reuse begin. We’ve previously collected incredible examples of what intrepid architects and designers have done with these structures; here are ten more recent projects that give thiese 20-foot-long steel rectangles a second life.

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