5 Ways to Build with Shipping Containers (That Aren’t Houses)

What are some ways to build with shipping containers?

When people think about shipping container architecture, they usually think tiny homes or shipping container homes.

But shipping containers can be built for many business industries!

In this blog, we’ll look at 5 ways to build with shipping containers that aren’t houses.

5 Ways to Build with Shipping Containers


You might be wondering why shipping containers are so popular as building materials.

In general, ISO steel containers are extremely durable and strong, withstanding a variety of weather conditions.

The idea of cargotecture, the concept of using shipping containers as a building base, actually began in 1962.

The Insbrandsten Company used containers for exhibition booths, a type of pop up shop to help showcase their product.

It wasn’t until 1987, however, when Philip C. Clark patented shipping containers as a means for housing purposes.

Build with Shipping Container Structure Patent

Years later, Stewart Brand would write and publish a book on how these conex boxes could be used as office spaces.

And they’ve evolved since.

Let’s look at a few examples.


1. Mobile Offices

Southwest Mobile Storage Mobile Office

The term mobile office is often associated with the idea of remote working or telecommuting, but there’s another definition.

Mobile offices are prefabricated portable offices, temporary storage spaces, or even a combination of the two.

These types of offices are easily moved from one location to another.

Mobile offices are common on construction sites, where foremen and managers use them to continue their work while out of their primary office location.

Mobile offices are great options for businesses who need either short term or permanent work environments.


2. Schools

Education, whether catered to kids or adults, is an important and often crucial point of development.

Unfortunately, in some areas educational facilities and buildings have decayed or the area is such that large scale construction is impossible.

This is where using shipping containers comes in.

Container schools are wonderful alternatives for areas where construction can not be done.

Using ISO steel containers, students can attend, study, and support their learning.

And like mobile offices, these schools can be moved, allowing them to travel to other in need areas.

An example of this is the Living Waters High School in Tanzania.

Living Waters is local orphanage that wanted to provide education to their residents. With the help of HIS, they were able to design and build a 3-story school.

HIS works with small charities, providing low cost building solutions. They’ve also helped with the TEARS High School in the Dominican Republic.


3. Fire Training Structures

Firefighter training is the process of having fire and emergency personnel go through live, simulated situations of fire.

This allows them to not only fight fires, but understand the construction of fires and how they work.

Shipping containers can be used as training structures, again, thanks to their portability as well as their ability to be modified.

Our sister company, Fire Training Structures, creates such towers. All structures and props meet the requirements set by the National Fire Protection Association.

Fire Training Structures Ways to Build with Shipping Containers

These fire training structures are modified and customized for customer requirements.

For instance, a fire department can create a flashover simulation structure to train personnel.

Flashovers are extremely dangerous, so it’s vital for firefighters understand how they occur and how to fight against them.


4. Restaurants and bars

People live in container homes, but what about eating and drinking in one?

Ways to Build with Shipping Containers Cargotecture Restaurant

Education and emergency industries aren’t the only ones using conex boxes.

The food industry has been displaying their brand uniqueness, using containers as delivery trucks and even creating entire shopping malls.

Bars like the Avenue Eat & Drink in Tampa Bay, as well as the many bars that help to make up Downtown Container Park in Vegas are just a few.

Restaurants are able to set up and start business in just a few months, creating a dining space in a creative environment.

With continued safety regulations due to COVID-19 containers are a great option for restaurants wanting to safely stay open.


5. Unique designs

All of the mentions on this list have one thing in common – a creative use for a shipping container.

Again, every and any industry can use shipping containers to fit their particular project.

A great example is the Qiyun Mountain Adventure and Sports Camp, located in Huangshan, Anhui in China.

The largest natural extreme sports park in the country, Qiyun covers nearly 75,000 square feet near the mountain side of Mount Qiyun.

Ways to Build with Shipping Containers - Qiyun Mountain Camp

The park itself includes an entrance pavilion, a market, an aquatic pier, and zip line area. The pier allows visitors to the nearby lake for kayaking and water sports.

Another example is the Hoonigan Racing Division headquarters in Utah.

Founded by rally racer Ken Block, Block wanted a fun and inspirational space for his employees, mechanics, and racers.

He wanted something environmentally friendly, but also something that could allow for additional space or offices if needed.

Here’s Block doing a tour of the building for his sponsor, Ford.

In this blog, we looked at 5 ways to build with shipping containers that aren’t the typical container homes most people expect.

Using containers can be a fantastic substitute when traditional building costs or area constraints can’t be done.

Modifications and customizations help to give a project the exact size and look a business is looking for. If you’re a business in need of a shipping container, call us!

Our shipping storage container experts can advise and guide your business on choosing the right container and the right size for your project.

Contact us at 800.686.9114 or fill out the contact form below!


  • Product and services

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY


  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY


  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY