Modern shipping containers have been around since 1956, thanks to the innovative mind of Malcom P. McLean, a trucking entrepreneur from North Carolina who came up with the idea to move the entire trucking container directly from the dock to the ship without having to unload and reload it from one container to another. And since that time they’ve been used primarily for just that: shipping cargo and other goods around the world.

But did you know that over the years shipping containers have been used for much more than just shipping? In fact, just the last few decades have seen them transformed and modified for such things as gymnasiums, garages, laboratories, and even discotheques. Of course, as humans become increasingly innovative each day, the world can expect more from this shipping containers commonly seen in major ports and off-dock container storage facilities, such as those available at Equipment Management Services in Dallas, Seattle, and Houston.

New and Used Shipping Containers with Cargo Stacked Up on a Tanker

Here are several other structures that you can build with shipping containers:


In some third world countries where building a traditional school can be very costly, shipping containers have been used as a more economical solution. Even here in the United States, outdoor classrooms, or annexes, are sprouting up all over due to increased student population. And like typical classrooms built with concrete, container classrooms are sturdy. In fact, they are preferred by some builders because they are easier and quicker to install.


It might seem a little odd to some people, but building a home out of shipping containers has taken on a new life in the last couple of decades. One such home in Dallas, Texas, is 3,700 square feet wide with three bedrooms and a roof deck that can accommodate 150 people. Fourteen storage containers were used to build this beautiful contemporary home.


Many family-owned restaurants and small cafes with limited budgets have found using recycled shipping containers ideal for their businesses. In Montreal, Canada, the Muvbox Restaurant is a nice example of using this idea, and the novelty itself seems to attract customers.

Temporary Disaster Shelters

Sadly, natural disasters occur all over the world, and many families are left homeless every time a strong one hits their areas. Modified shipping containers have proven to be cost effective and comfortable structures for housing people who need temporary shelter.

Emergency Hospitals

Along with natural disasters, man-made tragedies also occur. Mobile, technologically renovated shipping containers work well as functional triage centers for people who are injured when other medical needs are unavailable.


Hotels constructed from modified shipping containers are starting to pop up in overpopulated cities around the world, and they are doing a great job in providing secure abodes. They can also serve as base structures for larger hotels.

Art Galleries

Artists of all forms are starting to make use of refurbished shipping containers to display their work, especially in large cities like New York and Los Angeles. Like restaurants, the novelty of the structure draws interested patrons, and some artists feel the structures are an artistic form just by themselves.

Home Offices

Because of limited indoor space and privacy, shipping storage containers are often converted to offices. Depending on your specifications, some companies will install extra doors, vents, lighting, etc. to meet particular needs. In some cases, they just use the new addition as a storage room for their important files, or even a data center.


With a little creative thinking and a good location, a successful nightclub or bar can be constructed from several recycled shipping containers. The uniqueness of the resulting architectural design adds to the flare of the building. Most people these days who love the night life are looking for a new, exciting experience.

Swimming Pools

Whether above ground or in-ground, the rectangular shape and depth of a shipping cargo container works great for an outdoor swimming pool. It is even much easier to build than the typical concrete pool because it doesn’t need curing.

These are just few of the myriad of things shipping containers can be transformed into, but with a little ingenuity and thinking ‘outside of the box’, the possibilities are endless. To make sure that the shipping containers you will use for your project are of high quality, get them from reputable supplier, such as Equipment Management Services.


12 Surprising Uses for Shipping Containers that Will Blow Your Mind,