Dwell's Top 10 Upcycled Shipping Containers of 2017

We can barely contain our excitement over this year's awe-inspiring projects.
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Bad puns aside, 2017 showed us that when it comes to shipping containers, the possibilities for adaptive reuse are near endless. The most arresting projects of the year, rounded up below, run the gamut from a surfers' lodge in the Czech Republic, to an eye-popping home in Brooklyn, to a portable hotel room concept out of Australia. Keep scrolling to see the shipping container transformations that most impressed our readers this year. 

10. Common Ground Mall

Common Ground is a dynamic mall in Seoul made out of 200 bright blue, stacked prefabricated container modules. The 57,048-square-foot building, which took only five moths to construct is home to a variety of retail stores and F&B outlets that frequently draw a lively crowd.

Nestled on a family farm, this South African shipping container cabin is completely off the grid.
Located on owner Lucas Steyn’s family farm in Botrivier, a 90-minute drive from Capetown, Copia is an eco-retreat comprised of two shipping container cabins in the South African countryside.

The modular appearance of the duplex, clad in white Hardie plank siding, mimics the look of a two-story container home. With large windows and 11-foot-tall ceilings, the two-bedroom, three-bath residence feels more spacious than its 1,484 square feet. On the ground floor, the living, dining, and kitchen areas flow into one another; potential guests in the shipping container also have easy access to a full bath of their own. A steel-and-wood floating staircase leads to the second floor, which holds two bedrooms with patio access.

Atelier Riri devised creative ways to make living inside a shipping container in Indonesia’s tropical climate both comfortable and economical. The architects layered recycled pine, glass wool, and planter mesh on top of the home to help keep temperatures down.

Architect Maria Jose Trejos loves modern lines and clean shapes, so when photographer Sergio Pucci asked her to build him a live-work space on a 6,240-square-foot plot in Guachipelin, Escazú, San José, the suggestion to incorporate shipping containers seemed like a suitable choice. After sourcing four of the massive metal boxes from the country's busy Caribbean port, Trejos stacked and slid them like puzzle pieces, creating a sunken gallery space and spacious rooftop terrace. 

Designed by Prague-based architects Artikul Architects, the shipping container hotel is intended to be easily constructed in various locations. Currently situated along a surf campsite in the Czech Republic, the hotel was designed to be self-sufficient and eco-friendly, while providing comfortable lodging accommodations that are connected to nature.

Commissioned by an artist, a gallerist, and their daughter, LOT-EK was tasked with renovating and expanding their existing two-story home. The new design rotates around an extension made out of stacked shipping containers, and features vibrant colors and a centralized-floor plan. As a result, the architecture is now organized around a polychromatic core volume that extends from the ground floor to the roof terrace. 

Sited on a typical 25-by-100-foot corner lot in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, this 5,000-square-foot residence was built with 21 stacked shipping containers cut diagonally along the top and bottom to create a step-like structure with four tiered levels and a small pool between the two lower levels. Designed by LOT-EK, the construction process optimized the use of shipping containers by recombining all the leftovers from creating the diagonal cut. 

Australia-based firm Contained specializes in transforming vessels that originally hauled heavy cargo all over the world into well-designed lodgings. The portable structures have the unique ability to travel almost anywhere. Each 20-foot container easily opens up, flips out, and unfolds into an individual hotel room that opens up to the surrounding landscape, wherever that may be.

A previously unrealized design by Whitaker Studio will become a vacation home in Joshua Tree, each shipping container strategically angled for protection from the climate, privacy, and desert views. Shipping containers, angled in various directions to capture views or provide privacy, will make up the exoskeleton of the residence. The approximately 2,000-square-foot home will include three ensuite bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. A garage with a solar panel roof will power the dwelling. Nestled in a gully created by stormwater, Joshua Tree Residence engages with the topography and climate for a dynamic desert escape. 

To see more of our Top 10 lists, click here.


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