Steel freight containers have become favorite toys for ecocentric architects looking to repurpose existing materials. The crates themselves, which are eight-feet wide, eight or nine-feet high, and twenty or 40-feet long, are ideally proportioned building blocks. Their CORE-TEN steel frames and cladding make them incredibly strong, and resistant to corrosion and puncture. The units are manufactured with integral corner connectors so that they can be stacked vertically, strung horizontally, and stabilized diagonally with simple hardware. And both new and used containers are readily available. Because of the recent slow-down in international commerce, thousands of containers are lying unused at ports throughout the world.
Container Atlas: A Practical Guide to Container Architecture showcases some incredible buildings that have been assembled from these containers. The projects cover all styles, scales, and sensibilities, illustrating the broad range of effects that can be achieved.
Most designs leverage the rugged, industrial aesthetic of the containers, highlighting their corrugated cladding and leaving the scarred surfaces of used containers intact. A group of artists in Vancouver converted two used containers into an event space, where passers-by can stop to check out videos, artwork, or a live DJ. The graffiti-enhanced containers give the venue a gritty authenticity.