Shipping containers are extensively used in the shipping industry for transportation of cargo. However, just as viable they are in their area of operation, these highly useful equipment have been known to be recycled and used in several innovative ways outside the industry as well.

Here are 26 unusual uses for that basic steel box!

1. Theaters and Bistros: Reprocessing inter-modal containers into open theaters and bistros have become a popular trend in many places.



Although the longevity of such structured theaters and bistros isn’t that much, they provide a recreational atmosphere even in their short utility time-frame.

2. Schools: In the poorer parts of the world where constructing a traditional building for schools can be expensive, using containers for classrooms have become a noteworthy trend.

School In a Container


By using renewable forces of energy, these classrooms seek to provide the same quality of education as any other developing nation in the world. Here’s is a beautiful example of a shipping container classroom.

3. Restaurants: Using reprocessed inter-modal containers as base structures for restaurants has become a very fashionable trend presently.

Images Courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board and SPICE

Images Courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board and SPICE

The Muvbox restaurant in Montreal, Canada is an excellent example in this regard, as are several other unique such restaurants found across the globe.

4. Shipping Container Homes: Using cargo containers to build spacious and large homes is yet another fantastic alternative that has been developing in the past decade. Here’s is an example of solar powered shipping container house.



5. Hotels: Cargo containers have also found an alternate niche as base structures for hotels in many parts of the globe.


Credits: Snoozebox Via Inhabitat

Such reprocessed shipping containers hotels are either transportable structures or are constructions permanently established in one location.

6. Workshops: Lack of space at homes for work-related privacy has resulted in the trend of using inter-modal shipping containers as alternative workplaces.



The ideal build of the containers perfectly aids to the requirement of professionals using these transformed marvels, thus proving to be worthwhile.

7. Offices: Space constraints are a common problem in many countries.


Credits: Shinkenchiku-Sha Via Treehugger

Reprocessed shipping containers have been effectively used to tackle this problem by architecturally modifying them as convenient and spacious office buildings.

8. Emergency Hospital: Like an ambulance but something so much more.

Emergency Hospital Container


Altering shipping containers into hospitals like movable homes is truly a master-class aspect of contemporary engineering.

9. Portable Toilets: Reprocessing inter-modal shipping containers as movable toilets are a common sight to see in many countries.



Convenient features, such movable toilets help to maintain sanitary and hygienic surroundings at all times.

10. Stores: State-of-the-art commercial establishments are the present-day trend.

Shipping Container Shop


Adding further viability to these trends is the adoption of shipping containers as lucrative base structures for such high-rising commercial attractions.

11. Studios: Shipping containers also make for awe-inspiring studio workshops customised to reflect the uniqueness of the professional using it.


Credits: Lot-ek Via DesignBoom

12. Art Gallery: Reprocessing cargo containers into brilliant art galleries are also growing in many places.

Art Gallery

Credits: Eirik Førde Via Inhabitat

Such art galleries and display centres are fully refurbished to highlight and emphasise the creativity displayed within them.

13. Sauna: One’s own personal relaxation haven, variety doesn’t come in better forms than the container-modified-sauna.


Credits: Castor Design Via TreeHugger

14. Disaster Shelters: For people displaced from their homes on account of natural calamities and accidents, re-modified cargo shipping containers serve as the best structures to function as temporary shelter houses.

Credits: yasutaka yoshimura architects via DesignBoom

Credits: yasutaka yoshimura architects via DesignBoom

15. Cafes: Another brilliant usage of recycled shipping containers is that of coffee bars, providing much needed caffeine sustenance to coffee-lovers.

Coffee Shop

Credits: Boing Boing Via Gizmodo

16. Vacation Homes: Inexpensive yet elegant, shipping containers are the new ‘in-style’ architectural element in the concept of vacation and beach residences.

Vacation Homes

Credits: Atelier Workshop Via Inhabitat

17. Discotheques/bars: Inter-modal containers have also found great acceptance among the disco and pub-hopping crowd for their clever adaptation into the recreational avenue.


Credits: Platoon via Archdaily

18. Student Housing Facilities: In countries and cities where lack of space is a major problem, reprocessed cargo containers facilitate as best alternatives.

Student Housing


When it comes to student accommodations in schools and colleges, such utilisation takes on a completely new meaning.

19. Swimming Pools: The rectangular cargo containers make for superb pool facilities both with their originally-constructed length and depth.


Credits: ReadyMade Via Treehugger

20. Camper: Reprocessed intermodal containers have also become a popular favourite with the camping crowd across the globe as these structures provide solidity with absolutely high levels of comfort.


Credits: King County Parks

21. Urban Centres: Architecturally arranged racks of cargo containers have accounted to many innovative lifestyle centres in various cities and metropolises of the world.

Urban Village

Credits: Shuhe Architectural Photography Via Inhabitat

22. Malls: Using containers as mall rooms and outlets is yet another trend of using cargo containers gaining momentum.


Credits: Boxpark NDSM

23. Laboratories: The structure of a cargo shipping containers also helps in the setting up of laboratories for academic usages in the poorer and under-developed countries.

Computer labs

Images ©Elske Photography courtesy of Perkins+Will

24. Nurseries/Indoor Garden: Converting shipping containers into farms and nurseries is yet another innovative trend of utilizing reprocessed cargo containers.

Farm In Container


25. Garages and Car-Parks: Reprocessed shipping containers have also found flavor as ingenious garages and car-parks in many different parts of the world, which has to the overall USP of the huge steel boxes.



26. Gymnasiums/ Sports Centres: Cost efficiency factors have also led to the conversion of shipping containers into well-equipped gymnasiums and fitness centers in various schools across the world.

Sports Hall

Credits: Via Inhabitat

Alongside cost-benefits, using cargo containers also helps to save time and manpower in the entire construction processes.