The humble shipping container is a rather rare invention in that it was designed for one specific purpose and yet has become one of the most versatile designs ever made.

In some respects, this is not surprising. After all, whilst international freight requires resilience, robustness, stackability and economic use of space, all of which the ISO container provides, these virtues can translate to all manner of other fields.

As a result container conversions have become an architectural art form in themselves, and have seen some truly unique uses for shipping containers.

Here are some of the most unusual ways to convert and use a shipping container.



Whilst the narrow shape of a shipping container would seemingly preclude its use as a mini-cinema or screening pod, the concept has taken off in the expo and convention circuit, as the portability and privacy a shipping container space offers more than offsets the dimensional issues.

An easy solution to this is to have a modular screening location made of two or more pods that slot together to allow for the full-size Cinerama experience.

The USA Network, a television channel owned by NBCUniversal has taken full advantage of this and created brightly coloured “character projectors” for use at trade shows.


Fire Training Exercises

One you may have seen when undertaking fire safety training is the use of shipping containers as part of several fire safety exercises.

The first, and safest, is smoke exercises, where a shipping container is designed and dressed up like a typical home, dry ice or another relatively harmless smoke is added to the room and a team is instructed to escape whilst staying as low to the ground as possible.

As well as this, as containers are exceptionally sturdy and fire-resistant (so long as you get rid of the wooden floor of course), you can create several live training exercises for all levels of firefighter.



Whilst turning a shipping container into a swimming pool is the greater technical challenge, few shapes are as perfect for providing relaxing heat therapy as a shipping container.

With enough space to fit wooden walls and benches for that perfect Scandinavian ambience, creating your own shipping container sauna turns one of the most functional and heavily used pieces of equipment in the world and turning it into one of the most relaxing.


Container Farming

Indoor farming has become an increasingly popular and desirable option for growing food at scale, especially in less than ideal conditions.

Thanks to new farming systems such as hydroponic farming, it is possible to create a truly climate-controlled farm housed inside a shipping container, which allows for fresh produce all year round, sourced locally.



Whilst the majority of shipping container upcycles will be in the form of low-cost stylish housing, one further adaptation of this formula is to transform the roof of your new eco-home into a green roof, which provides an unending list of benefits for the environment.

Besides creating a whole new habitat for wild animals and decreasing the risks of floods in the nearby area, eco-friendly homes and roofs look better and can be part of a self-sufficient dwelling.


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