44 Exterior Shipping Container Building Type Design Photos And Ideas

These 20-foot shipping containers are repurposed into stunning luxurious hotel rooms.
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.  
As the story goes, Contained directors Anatoly Mezhov and Irene Polo envisioned these as ephemeral accommodations placed where there were no previous options. Born out of their love of traveling, the idea was to create a portable hotel room for short stays that can be set up anywhere.
Made of scraps taken from the containers’ sides, the roof creates a sense of openness from the inside and ushers in sunlight. Its slanted design creates a wind tower effect, providing natural ventilation that negates the need for air conditioning.
OPA wanted to free themselves from logic imposed by a grid and considered various inefficient configurations of shipping containers. They settled on a combination of options, seen in the trikselion shape here. The Presidio, San Francisco, California. Mobile exhibition pavilion for the For-Site Foundation. © Tim Griffith.
The home was built by two construction workers and the couple themselves, who were familiarized with the construction process and had backgrounds in industrial engineering. “We did not have blueprints for this design, and created only a 3-D model to guile them along the way,” Saxe says.
The architect and his team devised an armature on the back of the container that will eventually be covered with vines, concealing the AC and heating unit, the reservoir for graywater and the composting toilet outlet.
Located on the roof of the historic Gilsey House in Manhattan’s NoMad district, this renovated penthouse has an expansive sliding glass door that retracts into the zinc facade, opening up the master suite to a garden terrace with restored historic handrails.
Eight shipping containers, shifted and cut along a 45-degree angle are combined in a fishbone pattern to create a sculptural, arrow-shaped volume that’s raised almost ten feet above ground. Designed by New York firm LOT-EK, the building serves as an art school near the Hakwoon park pedestrian walkway in Anyang, as well as a focal point and landmark structure for the city of Anyang.
Bold, red-colored shipping containers were used to create a (12 meter long) visitor area extension for the National Theatres Company of Korea. Designed as a social zone for theatregoers, the space was equipped with internal sliding partition walls that can be opened or closed to allow for flexible use of the interior spaces.
The open concept Coromandel Bach is a container home that reinterprets the New Zealand building tradition of crafting wood. Located on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula, this container house captures the beautiful simplicity of living with nature. Natural timber provides a seamless connection to its surroundings. Designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects, this unique holiday home can be easily boxed up when not in use. A simple mechanism opens the deck upon arrival. The house has a simple rectangular open plan that extends the interior space to the outside and the ocean beyond.
This beautifully designed container home with incredible backdrop was built from a mixture of 20 ft shipping container and 40 ft shipping container by architect Narongdej Nilapat.
The recycled shipping containers were sourced from the Pacific Port of Caldera in Costa Rica. “Discarded shipping containers are all over the world and cost relatively little,” Saxe says. “With a bit of creativity and understanding of local building techniques, the interiors can be modified for any client.”
The firepole is an extra amenity the client always wanted to include in his home.
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.
While shopping for containers, Hill was instantly drawn to this one’s existing blue color and chose to buy it and leave it as is. Poteet added floor-to-ceiling sliding doors to allow light in, as well as a cantilevered overhang to shade a window on the left side, which houses a small garden storage area.
One of the main draws of Kevin Freeman and Jen Feldmann’s house is its connection to the neighborhood, which is why the front porch was a must. “Homes that have a door but no outside space say, ‘I’m not interested in you,’” designer Christopher Robertson explains. “This says, ‘I’m here to be part of the community.’”
Freeman and Feldmann's two dogs, Arnold and Ruti (short for Rutabaga), have claimed their territory as the space between the ground and the bottom of the 20-foot-long container that houses the kitchen. "The dogs like to go under there, because it's a two-foot-high space that is shaded and gets a nice breeze," Feldmann says. "When we were landscaping, we had to make sure to leave a path for the puppies so they could get to that spot."
Alongside the redwood shade screen, which keeps the house from overheating, Freeman and Feldmann grow vegetables in an 18-inch-wide garden but frequently bike to nearby eateries for the local Mexican cuisine.
To the right of the house, the couple had a Geosystems FilterPave porous pavement driveway installed. Made of post-consumer recycled glass, the driveway lets water pass through it at an astonishing speed and, in the sun, adds a little sparkle.
The Qiyun Mountain Camp is an extreme sports and adventure park that sits on a 60-acre property in China. LOT-EK designed the public facilities and services within the park, which includes a 15,000-square-foot restaurant plaza that overlooks a river..
Qiyun Mountain Camp Market in Huangshan, China
Bohen Foundation
Apap Open School in Anyang, Korea
PUMA City
C-Home
Poteet describes the space as “unbearably hot” before he used spray-foam insulation between the exterior walls and the interior bamboo. “Now it’s the equivalent of a steel ice chest,” he says.
The container was brought to the property by truck, then the architectural team rented a small crane for around $250 a day to rotate it until they found the right spot for it to rest.
With the flick of a switch, the glass goes from opaque to clear.
The structure consists of eight shipping containers on the second floor and three on the third floor. To meet the foundation’s slightly variable width, three of the containers were halved and pulled apart toward the front of the house, which also allowed for the insertion of a custom skylight in the main living space.
Purchasing a lot off the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, Martha Moseley and Bill Mathesius adapted an unused concrete foundation—remnants of its previous owner’s abandoned plans—to create a home that’s uniquely their own. “We were inspired by the site, and our desire to have something cool and different,” says Moseley.

Zoom out for a look at the modern exterior. From your dream house, to cozy cabins, to loft-like apartments, to repurposed shipping containers, these stellar projects promise something for everyone. Explore a variety of building types with metal roofs, wood siding, gables, and everything in between.

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