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What can shipping containers be used for?

shipping containers ready for conversion

Repurposing is a big trend at the moment. To help cut back on waste, objects that were designed for one purpose are being modified to create something completely different.

Shipping containers are no exception to this. Yes, they may have been originally designed to transport goods across the world. But, thanks to their beneficial characteristics and properties, they’re now employed for a wide range of purposes outside of the international freight industry.

Here we take a look at why and outline some of our favourite shipping container ideas to date.

Shipping containers – perfectly designed for repurposing

Shipping containers are typically constructed from corten steel. Sometimes referred to as ‘weathering steel’, this is a robust metal known for its useful properties. For example, it:

  • is resistant to corrosion
  • can withstand exposure to harsh elements (e.g. saltwater, extreme temperatures)
  • demonstrates high-tensile strength
  • retains its structural integrity and security when damaged
  • prevents the spread of rust
  • is easy to repair using simple welding or patching techniques

Essentially, all shipping containers are designed from the outset with longevity and sustainability in mind. They’re incredibly durable and guaranteed to last. As such, they lend themselves well to the ‘repurposing’ trend and container conversions are now being used across a diverse range of sectors.

8 creative shipping container uses

1. Pop-up cafés, bars and restaurants

Example of a creative shipping container use

This is one of the most popular types of shipping container conversion.

Thanks to their size and shape, containers can be easily transformed to create a hip bar or café. Fixtures and fittings can be installed – allowing food and drink to be prepared (and stored) inside – and customers can be served via the full-length window. In terms of appearance, the options are endless and the entire establishment can be easily moved and set-up in different locations.

Take, for example, the ‘market stall conversion’ recently completed here at Gap Containers. This was designed and created for the 2019 Manchester Christmas market. It started out as two basic shipping containers. However, by applying our expertise, we converted it into a unique and eye-catching food stall – that can be re-used year-after-year to successfully attract business.

2. Offices

Shipping containers are also commonly converted into office space. This is an affordable option for a start-up company or a business that wishes to expand without having to move premises.

The structure can be either single or multi-storey, depending on the size of the team, and can be fitted with the necessary features to allow staff to work effectively (e.g. electrical wiring, heating system etc.). What’s more, because shipping containers are structurally solid and designed to be as secure as possible, it’s a safe place to keep expensive tools, equipment and computers.

Office shipping container conversion

3. Mess huts

A popular option for construction sites. Shipping containers are frequently converted into a mess hut. Windows and doors can be added and the container can be equipped with furniture and a small kitchenette – creating a pleasant space for staff to take a break and relax. Yet, thanks to their sturdy construction, they help to deter vandals and can withstand tough day-to-day site conditions.

4. Classrooms

The education sector has also recently started to experiment with repurposed shipping containers.

Not only are they an affordable option, they’re incredibly quick and easy to install. In most cases, the structure can be converted and installed during the school holidays, causing minimal disruption to students, teachers and parents. As such, they have become a popular option for existing schools that are undergoing renovation or those which require additional classroom space for their pupils.

5. Portable toilets

Shipping containers can be easily converted into a portable on-site toilet or bathroom.

These are a much bigger and more hygienic alternative to a basic ‘portaloo’. Toilets, showers, basins and urinals can all be added to meet your specific requirements. The structure itself is much more private for users and waste disposal methods are easier and more convenient. As a result, they have become a popular choice amongst event co-ordinators and organisations with outdoor facilities.

6. Hotel rooms

As they are structurally-sound, eco-friendly and affordable, shipping containers are now frequently being converted into quirky hotel rooms. There are so many external and internal finishes to choose from, it’s possible to create something truly unique – ranging from a single ‘one guest’ container for someone’s back garden to a large apartment complex that can hold up to 100 guests.

Hotel made from shipping containers

7. Garden shed

A shipping container is an ideal place to store gardening tools – such as lawnmowers and trimmers – as well as other outdoor equipment. Unlike a traditional wooden shed, the corten steel will never rot or mould. No assembly or maintenance is required and the contents will be very safe and secure. It’s also possible for them to be converted into a pretty garden room or garden studio.

8. Swimming pool

This is one of the more creative shipping container ideas. Fitted with either a sealant or liner, a standard 20ft or 40ft container can be transformed into an outdoor swimming pool. There’s no need to worry about digging or planning permission. No major work is required. The shipping container can simply be dropped into place and decking or ladders can be added to allow access.

Shipping container conversions at Gap Containers

Ready to start your shipping container conversion? Gap Containers is a leading UK specialist in this area. Here we have outlined some of our most popular requests. However, in reality, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to their strength, durability and versatility, shipping containers can be repurposed and converted for an endless range of uses – across a broad spectrum of sectors.

That’s why we like to offer a bespoke container conversion service. Whatever you have in mind – whether it be one of the shipping container uses above or something even more creative and unique – we’re here to help. We can supply converted containers of various sizes (ranging from 6-40ft), with external and internal features, fixtures and fittings to meet your specific requirements, and will do everything in our power to make your ideal repurposed shipping container a reality.

So why not get in touch? Either give us a call on 0870 240 9405 or send an email to sales@gapcontainers.co.uk. We’re always on hand and happy to answer your questions and are ready-and-waiting to hear your shipping container ideas.

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Gap Container Services is a nationwide supplier of all types and sizes of containers of every condition, with an option of new and used storage containers. We offer storage and shipping containers for sale, shipping container hire and container delivery services and we also offer containers for self-storage – whichever suits the customer’s needs.

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