Posts Tagged ‘Refurbished Containers’

They Made a City of Containers—And You Can Too:
Utilizing Containers for Retail

A group of developers in San Andrés Cholula, Mexico has taken the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) to a new level. The innovative designers have created a “city” with buildings made strictly with recycled shipping containers and topped them off with a plethora of reused materials.

“Los containers,” as it’s called by the locals, prides itself on principles of sustainability and style, maintaining a vibrantly cohesive design throughout its connected art galleries, restaurants, bars, boutiques, bakeries, dry cleaner and bus depot—all inside of shipping containers.

This 50,000-square-foot strip mall has all the makings of a hip hangout spot for anyone looking to spend a leisurely yet unconventional afternoon or evening.

Can’t make it down to Mexico? Take a few cues from Container City’s groundbreaking ideas in container renovation to learn how salvaged shipping containers are more of a solution than a compromise. Their out-of-the-box thinking reverberates and keeps customers coming—the idea is a hit. No matter the scale of your retail needs, containers make perfect structures for the aspiring restaurateur or pop-up shopper.

Container City street view

Here’s why:

1. Distinction. A container on the street dressed up as a café stands out from other buildings, and for a positive reason. In today’s age of amplified green-consciousness, people appreciate efforts at sustainability. Reusing containers reduces the waste of them. Not only will most people acknowledge this, they’re likely to be curious as to what’s inside the repurposed container.

 2. Portability. For someone trying to open up shop with little money, a permanent location is usually hard to find. If your retail space is in a container, however, it can move around just as easily as you can. The weather-resistant nature of containers also makes them functional anywhere from Florida to Alaska.

 3. Customizability. Unless you would prefer to receive it as-is, we can modify your container to suit you or your brand’s individual needs. A container can be equipped with heat/AC fixtures, roll-up doors, windows, skylights, shelves—and if we haven’t done it before, we’ll work with you to make the container the perfect space for whatever you’re selling.

Top 10 Coolest Container Structures

10.    PUMA City, Shipping Container Store – LOT-EK

 PUMA City 1

The Puma container store features 24 containers, is three stories high, and makes up 11,000-square-feet.  This project, known as Puma City, definitely deserves a spot in the top ten.  Designed and constructed by the NYC/Napoli based office LOT-EK, the Puma container store was created by a practice that has been known for their projects involving used shipping containers. Though it was created back in September 2008, this project opened up new ideas to shipping container companies around the globe.  The whole concept of Puma City was to make it eco-friendly while making it mobile; this shipping container structure, made of 24 refurbished containers are totally dismountable, making it mobile and being able to be shipped to any location needed.   With three floors including two decks and a bar/lounge with lower lighting completes the whole look of Puma City being given a bigger feel of durability than just a prefabricated structure that can be easily folded up and moved around.

PUMA City 2


9.      Starbucks: Reclamation Drive-Thru


With a LEED-certification in hand with stores all across the United States, Starbucks Coffee knew they had to do something green soon to put their new certification into use.  Right outside their headquarters in Seattle is a shipping container yard, which actually inspired Starbucks to start what they call “Reclamation Drive-Thru”.  Starbucks had already been using shipping containers for a while to import tea and coffee from around the world. However, many of the like-new shipping containers that were used to import Starbucks’ materials are forced into scrap yards like the one outside the Starbucks Headquarters. The Reclamation Drive-Thru project was inspired by this concept of keeping these shipping containers already throughout Starbucks’s supply chain and out of a one-time use waste stream.  The innovative structure consists of a 450-square-foot drive-thru and walk-up styled store made with refurbished shipping containers.  This Starbucks store is made up four refurbished shipping containers, though one of them is a 20-foot container used for garbage, storage and recycling.


8.      Caterpillar House – Santiago, Chile


On a hillside overlooking the Andes Mountains just outside Chile’s capital city, Santiago resides a house made out of shipping containers known as the Caterpillar House. This property measures at about 3,800-square-feet with a grand total of 12 refurbished shipping containers (five 40-foot units and six 20-foot units) and then an open top container used as a swimming pool.  Some of the containers are at an angle because they wanted the shipping container structure to flow with the scenery around it as much as possible, so the home actually slopes against the hillside.


Adding on to the endless features to this eco-friendly house are the multiple windows, skylights, and adjoining pieces put together with the containers.  Instead of an expensive, energy-sucking, air conditioning unit, the Caterpillar House features passive cooling which is distinctively made to make full used of the natural cool air that comes down the mountains—which will eventually pass through all the windows, doors and ventilated façade of the Caterpillar House.  Given the size, location, and features of this house, the Caterpillar House uses the most model level of home energy requirements to where not much money is being spent, but being saved.


7.      Hurley H20 Campaign – 2012 US Open of Surfing

The US Open of Surfing is a surf competition that happens every year at the end of July in Huntington Beach, California. Shipping Containers are usually a prime option to use for these types of events because of their design, durability, and mobility.  Nike sponsored the 2012 US Open and Hurley, being owned by Nike, launched their H20 clean water campaign.  For this, a booth was designed for the event to inspire water activism and push for cleaner water.  Again, refurbished shipping containers were used to create this booth, which was used as a water-filling station where thousands of fans of the US Open could come up and refill their reusable water bottles.  The company IPME (Innovations, Projects, Management & Equipment) gave the refurbished used shipping container that was used in the making of the Hurley water station.  The Hurley H20 booth was also used in the Hurley Pro in late September of that year.


hurley h2o

6. Shipping Container Hotel 

Although currently on a winter break, “Sleeping Around” is group of 20-foot shipping containers turned into luxury hotel rooms. The hotel boasts its portability, explaining on its website that although it’s currently in Antwerp, Belgium, it can and will go anywhere. This movability is paired with an ecological essence—it’s a hotel made of recycled containers with “ecologically responsible” materials inside. These qualities may attract many eager guests, but “Sleeping Around” is an exclusive activity; there are only four hotel rooms, a breakfast/lounge container, and a sauna container, making it the ultimate cool container setup. After the pop-up hotel’s winter break, the rooms are available for booking on Sleeping Around’s website (

 Sleeping Around

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5. Illy Pop-up House

 Italian coffee-makers Illy Café created a five-room home recently—that opens up like a lily and then folds back into its compact size. The core material? A shipping container. Illy Café unveiled this pop-up house in 2007 to promote its espresso-making method of coffee packaged in small capsules, while displaying sustainability by using a recycled shipping container. The attractively cohesive design of this shipping container structure, in conjunction with its unique portability, ignited significant buzz upon the pop-up shop’s 2007 debut.


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4. Ecopods

Whether you are looking for a fully-functioning living space or just an area to lounge, Ecopods can provide an eco-friendly pod to get the job done. It operates with an 80-watt solar panel and therefore saves you from the rising prices of electricity. Like all other cool container-made structures, Ecopods are completely portable. The company caters to customers seeking both residential and commercial space.


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3. Cove Park Cubes

A very green (literally) artist retreat met the sustainability of a shipping container structure in western Scotland’s Cove Park, a year-round retreat for artists to gain inspiration. The artists can choose to live in pods formerly used on BBC’s “Castaway 2000” TV show or cubes converted from freight containers. The container cubes double as living and working spaces for the artists, including decked balconies that overlook the stunning Loch Long Sea.

Cove Park

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2. BBC Broadcasting Studios

 BBC Studios 1

BBC has built two studios on top of 18 shipping containers in London, a traditional building perched on a three-story container structure. BBC was keen to build this new structure with environmental impact in mind, hiring Container City for the task. Given the global prominence of BBC for both entertainment and journalism, the company’s choice of shipping containers for one of their major buildings brings new international light to the architectural concept.

BBC Studios 2

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1. ECOntainerBridge

Aiming to provide a gateway to Ariel Shannon National Park of Israel, this colorful construction will put together recycled steel shipping containers to form a tunnel-style bridge. The minds behind the plan, Yoav Messer Architects, vowed to do all of the construction off-site so as to avoid damaging the natural beauty of the site. “From a conglomeration of waste to a lifeline,” says the architect group on their website about the bridge. The bridge will accommodate pedestrians, bikers, and shuttle vehicles.


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Refurbished vs. Wind and Water Tight Containers

refurbished vs wwt containers

What’s the difference?

Refurbished Shipping Containers are used containers that start out as Wind and Water Tight containers, then given a treatment.The used container has surface rust wherever it is scratched which can be wire brushed off the container removing it while exposing bare steel. We then primer the container for a fresh coat of paint. The end result is a refurbished shipping container, which looks much better and also lasts much longer. These repaired containers will last much longer than the untouched or “AS IS” watertight storage containers. If you are okay with a used container with some dents and minor cosmetic blemishes inside and out, then refurbished shipping containers are a great option.

Wind and Water Tight Containers or ”WWT” containers are basically self-explanatory; meaning whatever is stored inside a wind and watertight storage container is protected from outside winds and any kind of liquid or water that can get inside it. These containers are specifically built for transporting goods cargo ships, which means that they can easily usually withstand any kind of weather and water conditions they are faced with. Wind and Watertight Storage Containers can be used to store anything needed to, but they are put to the best of their potential when they are being used to ship cargo while stacked on top of and under other heavy filled shipping containers. Compared to Refurbished Shipping Containers, Wind and Watertight storage containers are not refurbished – in fact; they are basically used containers without refurbishment. They still have the scratches, dents, and rusty spots and paint patches, they have surface rust where scratched and are normally labeled by the shipping lines.


Refurbished Shipping Containers – Some advantages to choosing a Refurbished Container can be that they are fixed up, repainted and still guaranteed to last. Though they are used, Refurbished Containers can be repainted to fix rust and other scratched imperfections on the container. This technique used to repair containers is becoming a popular one with many container companies today including Container Alliance. Though these containers are not brand new looking on the outside, they are still in far better shape than WWT Containers are and the fact that the surface rust has been dealt with, grinded off and repainted will preserve the life of your container.

WWT Containers – The advantage of choosing Wind and Watertight Storage Containers over Refurbished Shipping Containers is that these containers are already used which is easily show on the outside of the container and sometimes even the inside of the container, but they are still great for storing goods to exported or imported. They are still able to take on the winds and powerful seas after being used. They are the most economical container that does not have damage and is in waterproof condition.


Refurbished Containers – Going with Refurbished Shipping Containers usually is already an advantage in itself over a simply used one, the only disadvantage being that they are a bit more expensive. If you desire the traditional look of an ISO shipping container you will want to stick with a standard unpainted unit as it appears from the shipping line.

WWT Containers – The disadvantages associated with the WWT container VS Refurbished lie in the fact that the WWT containers are not preserved in any way. WWT have been used to transport cargo throughout the world over land, sea and road. Wherever the container is scratched surface rust is present and over time will naturally deteriorate the steel. Although the newer “CORTEN STEEL” is less susceptible to rust refurbishing these newer Corten units will preserve the life of the container.