26 Shipping Containers Stack Together in This London Apart-Hotel

26 Shipping Containers Stack Together in This London Apart-Hotel

By Lucy Wang
In Waterloo, London architecture firm Doone Silver Kerr repurposes shipping containers into 20 micro-apartments with a downstairs wine bar.

Having whet their appetite for "cargo-tecture" with the Artworks Elephant incubator space, creative property development company Stow Projects tapped Doone Silver Kerr for a new shipping container project: a contemporary apart-hotel concept in central London. 

Located on one of London’s oldest market streets, Lower Marsh, Stow-Away Waterloo is within close distance to many of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.

Inspired by "sustainable placemaking," Stow tasked the firm to design the building—dubbed Stow-Away Waterloo—using 26 "end-of-life" shipping containers. The repurposed units were first trimmed down to a 30-foot length and partly finished in an off-site factory before they were flat packed and fitted out on-site.

The shipping containers are stacked five across and five high. The modular system enables the building to be dismantled and relocated at the end of Stow-Away’s lease.

"We believe in recycling and using products to their fullest potential," says Ross Kerr, Director of Doone Silver Kerr. "By utilizing used shipping containers, we conserved energy and the use of natural resources, and particularly benefited from cost reductions in the raw material."

Stacked to a height of five stories, the hotel features 20 micro-apartments—each inside a recycled shipping container—atop a ground-floor reception and wine bar. As a destination for short and long-term stays, Stow-Away Waterloo also offers the flexibility of remote check-in and check-out.

The end face of the containers were cut out and replaced with a fixed double-glazed window that spans the height of the unit. The glass is fritted on the lower part for privacy.

On the ground floor is Unwined, a boutique wine bar and pop-up kitchen.

 To respect the urban context of the Lower Marsh Conservation Area, the containers were painted white in reference to the stucco-fronted properties along Lower Marsh. Projecting steel fins were also welded to the exterior, creating a striking sculptural effect that provides privacy and protection from the sun. 

The underside of each solar fin was painted a metallic burnt orange as a reminder of the COR-TEN steel that the containers are constructed from.

Each 200-square-foot container apartment includes a super king-size bed that spans the width of the studio; a walk-in shower with toiletries; a flat-screen smart TV; storage space; a wardrobe; a dining table with two chairs; and a fully-equipped kitchenette with a microwave grill, a cooktop, fridge, and dishwasher.

"The refined interior shells of the containers are clad with self-finished surfaces such as stone and stained and natural plywood, optimizing high-performance materials to maximize internal dimensions, durability, and longevity," notes the Stow-Away team. "The containers are designed to function as self-contained independent structures."

The minimalist bathroom with a walk-in shower is dressed in marble and comes with Molton Brown® toiletries.

In addition to natural finishes that include FSC-certified timber and marble, the stylishly appointed studios feature "a muted color palette that subtly shifts from light to dark to evoke a greater sense of space, and to further ensure guest comfort by preventing a ‘tunnel effect’ sensation," notes the hotel.

The bed is designed to be multifunctional with wall cushions that can adapt for watching TV.

To muffle sounds of the South Western Main Line nearby, specialized acoustic rubber pads have been applied to each floor.

Stow-Away Waterloo was also created with replicability in mind; Stow hopes to expand their brand to other properties in London and beyond.  

Visitors can enjoy sweeping views of London’s Southbank area from the semi-enclosed back of the hotel.

Photovoltaic panels top the roof of the building.

Of his favorite aspects of the project, Kerr shares: "Meeting one of the first guests – a family so enamored with sleeping in a shipping container their children didn’t want to leave – made us feel like we had got something right."

Stow-Away Waterloo apartment floor plan

Stow-Away Waterloo floor plan

Book your stay at Stow-Away Waterloo here.

Planning a trip to the UK? Check out these other stays: 

Stay in a Converted Victorian Cooperage in London

This Eye-Popping Chapel For Rent in England Tells the Story of a Made-Up Saint

Somerset’s Dimpsey Glamping Awarded Gold by Visit England’s Quality in Tourism

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Doone Silver Kerr / @doonesilverkerr

Builder/ General Contractor: CMT Construction

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers - Chris Austin / JMS Consulting Engineers - Mark Rust

Sound Engineer: MLM Acoustics - Mark Scaife

M&E: Ferguson Brown / Piet Sportel

Other: MLM Building Control/ Peter Louis


Get the Dwell Travel Newsletter

Start exploring far-flung design destinations, the newest boutique hotels, and well-designed bars and restaurants perfect for the modern jetsetter.