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Gap Containers Blog

Shipping container testing and vaccination centres

Architect who is planning container conversion

Last month, we took a look at some of the versatile ways in which shipping containers conversions have been used during the COVID-19 crisis. From pop-up intensive care units to temporary accommodation, we were fascinated to learn how these simple steel structures – typically used for moving or storing goods – have proved useful in the fight against an unprecedented pandemic.

Fast forward a month or so. The ‘R’ rate is below one and we’re coming down the other side of the bell curve. And as we move into the next phase – of testing and vaccinations – architects are still finding new (ingenious) ways for shipping containers to be of help. Here we explore how.

COVID-10 mobile vaccination centres

Shipping container conversions for use as vaccination centres

If a vaccine is found, how could the UK immunise over 60 million people as quickly as possible?

According to London-based architects, Waugh Thistleton, shipping containers are the solution.

They have recently proposed making 6500 mobile vaccination centres from standard 40ft shipping containers. Each unit could be kitted out with all the necessary medical equipment and would be separated into zones – allowing patients to enter at one end and exit through the other.

As shipping containers are designed for transportation, these architects believe they are the perfect option for such use. The centres could (in theory), travel the full length and breadth of the country in just 12-16 weeks. Staffed by the NHS and parking up in open spaces – such as car parks, school grounds etc. – they offer a feasible way to roll out a mass immunisation programme.

Of course, a vaccination for COVID-19 hasn’t been discovered just yet. But the team at this leading architectural practice are working to get these centres manufactured – converting the shipping containers as necessary and ensuring they’re ready for deployment when it has.

Plans for COVID-19 shipping container conversion

New York COVID-19 testing centres

Similarly, an architecture studio in New York – Grimshaw – has been drawing up plans for a range of prefabricated coronavirus testing centres; again, which will be made from shipping containers.

The studio was approached by the leading healthcare company, Osang, and asked to develop a solution to collect samples and process their ‘Gene Finder COVID-19 Plus Real Amp Kit’. This is a test that can detect COVID-19 in its early stages when no symptoms are likely to be present. As such, it needs to be conducted in a clinical laboratory setting, where a high level of accuracy is guaranteed.

Grimshaw decided to use shipping containers for two main reasons. Firstly, they can be very quickly fabricated. Secondly, once built, they can be easily moved and redeployed. They’ve designed five testing units in total. The smallest (DTEC 1) is made from a single container, whilst the largest (DTEC 5) is made from five containers and will be capable of processing 750 tests per hour.

The first prototype is only due to be ready in July. However, these conversion plans are a great example of how architects are using containers to help with the next phase of the pandemic.

Container conversion for COVID-19 testing centres

Think ‘inside’ of the box with a container conversion

As a leader in shipping container conversions, we’re always excited to learn of new ways in which these steel boxes are being used. That’s why we find these COVID-19 conversions so inspiring. They remind us of the amazing things that can be achieved if you just think outside (or inside!) of the box.

We’re always eager to take on a new challenge, here at Gap Containers. So, if you have an idea for a novel container conversion, please feel free to get in touch. We have many years’ experience in this area and our team of experts will be happy to advise on the best way to proceed. Just give us a call on 0870 240 9405 or send an email to and we’ll get back to you.


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