Container News

In 2005 terrace restaurant Wijn of Water (Wine or Water) in the Lloyd-quarter in Rotterdam opened its doors. The restaurant is a composition with sea-containers. The building is temporary, this or next year the restaurant will be housed in the Sint Jobsveem warehouse, 250 meters away. Because of this temporaryness, there was a limited budget. The restaurant was brought up from scratch to completion in just half a year. The principal himself took care of the construction.

The chosen building blocks are nine second hand 40 feet containers, measuring 12,2 meters and making a section of 2,5 x 2,9 meters. All the installations are placed on the outside, giving it an extra utilitarian touch. Towards the city the composition forms a wall, here two containers are stacked. On the first floor they contain an office and a room for the installations.

After entering the restaurant opens up, facing the Maas canal. On one side the terrace is embraced by a single laying container. A smaller one is placed in line with the large volume, this makes, in combination with the tower placed container, two terraces. The erected container is a such a marker for the restaurant and also forms a compositoric counterbalance for the large wall. On a practical level its a storage place.

Some of the doors of the containers are opened and filled with a film of glass. An much to ordinary radiator brakes the visual nice gesture of openness. The long sides of the containers, facing the terraces are opened up and filled with huge glass windows. The work and office spaces have smaller windows. Inside the restaurant there are smaller boxes to host toilets and kitchen storage. The spatial compostion of the containers and their new contents make somehow logical sense at the pier.

  • 4.1.1 Corner Fitting. Internationally standard fitting (casting) located at the eight corners of the container structure to provide means of handling, stacking and securing containers. Specifications are defined in ISO 1161.
  • 4.1.2 Corner Post. Vertical structural member located at the four corners of the container and to which the corner fittings are joined.
  • 4.1.3 Door Header. Lateral structural member situated over the door opening and joined to the corner fittings in the door end frame.
  • 4.1.4 Door Sill. Lateral structural member at the bottom of the door opening and joined to the corner fittings in the door end frame.

  • 4.1.5 Rear End Frame. The structural assembly at the rear (door end) of the container consisting of the door sill and header joined at the rear corner fittings to the rear corner posts to form the door opening.
  • 4.1.6 Top End Rail. Lateral structural member situated at the top edge of the front end (opposite the door end) of the container and joined to the corner fittings.
  • 4.1.7 Bottom End Rail. Lateral structural member situated at the bottom edge of the front end (opposite the door end) of the container and joined to the corner fittings.
  • 4.1.8 Front End Frame. The structural assembly at the front end (opposite the door end) of the container consisting of top and bottom end rails joined at the front corner fittings to the front corner posts.
  • 4.1.9 Top Side Rail. Longitudinal structural member situated at the top edge of each side of the container and joined to the corner fittings of the end frames.
  • 4.1.10 Bottom Side Rail. Longitudinal structural member situated at the bottom edge of each side of the container and joined to the corner fittings to form a part of the understructure.
  • 4.1.11 Cross Member. Lateral structural member attached to the bottom side rails that supports the
  • flooring.
  • 4.1.12 Understructure. An assembly consisting of bottom side and end rails, door sill (when applicable), cross members and forklift pockets.
  • 4.1.13 Forklift Pocket. Reinforced tunnel (installed in pairs) situated transversely across the understructure and providing openings in the bottom side rails at ISO prescribed positions to enable either empty capacity or empty and loaded capacity container handling by forklift equipment.
  • 4.1.14 Forklift Pocket Strap. The plate welded to the bottom of each forklift pocket opening or part of bottom siderail. The forklift pocket strap is a component of the forklift pocket.
  • 4.1.15 Gooseneck Tunnel. Recessed area in the forward portion of the understructure to accommodate transport by a gooseneck chassis. This feature is more common in forty foot and longer containers.

The 12 Container House is a custom prefab green home created from 12 recycled shipping containers. This "T-shaped" 2-story summer home features floor to ceiling windows, concrete floors, two fireplaces and radiant in-floor heating. 



It is both ubiquitous and original, small and large, intimate and expansive.  Kalkin’s creative architectural arsenal seems to have more corners and secret rooms than any one could every fully explore.  Arguably the premiere example of shipping container architecture.

The 600-pound glass door, which took about a month to build and mount, rolls on a custom ball-bear rolling system that Stulberg put together.  The nine-foot square extends the interior and provides a good amount of natural light during the day.

Stulberg used plasma cutters for the openings and finished the space with soy-based foam insulation, sanded plywood, Homasote recycled paper, and a ductless mini-split air conditioner and heater.  Like the door, Stulberg built the box lights himself which take low-output halogens.

Not counting pizza and coffee for helpful friends, Stulberg tells us he spent about $16,000 building the Studio Pod, though he could do it for a lot less next time.  That’s because he bought some tools and made a few miscalculations fabricating window prototypes and other things.

Recognizing that others may have the same itch that Stulberg had when he determined to build the Studio Pod, the owner said, “You can slice and dice a container in amazing ways and simply reinforce the structure with steel when holes are cut into its structure.”  So there’s no need to limit your creative juices when working with shipping containers.


Located in South Melbourne, Australia, and designed by Phooey Architects, is the green Children’s Activity Centre at Skinners Playground.  This piece of shipping container architecture is made of four cargo shipping containers.  The environment is a familiar one: micro-landscapes, sheds and objects that are somewhere between toy and assault course. Color is everywhere, in equal strengths and volumes so that no single color dominates, and the compound is still shrill when the kids are absent.

The form and aesthetics were generated by sustainable architecture strategies aimed at zero waste. When the four re-used containers were joined in a staggered arrangement, intimate and public spaces were created for a variety of functions including study, painting, dancing and lounging about. Each container was oriented to produce visual and physical connections to surrounding playground spaces.

Lots of people come to our site and see shipping container homes and fall in love with how incredible they look and also how affordable they are. But one question normally lingers in the background of their thoughts- ‘Is living in a shipping container home safe?’.

I’ve received quite a few emails about this as well. People use the word safe in many different contexts. For instance, I get emails from mothers asking if a shipping container home is safe for her family to live in. I also get emails from people who want to build a shipping container cabin to use in the wilderness and want to know if it’s safe from people breaking into it…

So today we’re going to look at exactly how safe shipping container homes are and whether you should be thinking about living in one.

Question: Do Shipping Container’s Container Harmful Chemicals?

The most common safety question people ask is do shipping containers contain harmful chemicals? I think a lot of these concerns come from a well wrote article over at Arch Daily on the pros and cons of living in a shipping container home.

If you haven’t ready to article yet it’s well worth the read.

For those of you too busy to read it Brian highlights two key concerns:

  1. Wooden Floors used in the majority of shipping containers are treated with hazardous chemical such as pesticides (this keeps pests away).
  2. Some shipping containers are coated in paint which contains harmful chemicals such as phosphorous and chromate.

Now, Brain rightly raises these concerns however like most things there is more to this than first meets the eye.

If you are purchasing and building your home with new shipping containers, then you don’t need to worry about these concerns because you can specify to your manufacturer that they don’t treat the floors and don’t coat the shipping containers with hazardous paint. Simple.

However using new shipping containers to build your home increases the cost and also depletes the environmental kudos you were gaining through re-cycled used shipping containers.

So, we now need to address second hand shipping containers. If you purchase your containers second hand then there is a good chance that Brian’s concerns hold true for your containers. They will very likely have been treated with these harmful chemical, so we can you do about it?

Firstly, you can contact the original manufacture of the container and enquire whether the floors have been treated with hazardous chemicals. To do this you can use your shipping containers unique identification number to track who manufactured the container- more about this here.

If your flooring has been treated with hazardous chemicals what can you do?

Well we spoke with Larry from Sea Container Cabin who converted his used shipping containers back in 2010.

To protect himself from the chemicals sprayed on the wooden floor he used a non-breathable flooring underlayment (see below).

Shipping Container Home Flooring

This underlayment was laid straight over the original wooden flooring and then Larry laid his titles on-top of the underlayment.

If you want to be completely sure, you could even remove the original wooden flooring and replace it with marine plywood from your local hardware store.

Remove Harmful Paint Coating

Now onto the harmful paint coating which is often used on second hand containers. This coating is used to protect the container from saltwater whilst they are in transit across the ocean. It’s vital for containers when they are being used to transport cargo- but obviously not great when we are using these containers to build homes.

Again the first thing to do is contact the manufacturer of your shipping container and find out exactly what paint has been used (more on that above).

If your containers have been coated with harmful chemicals you will need to use spray foam insulation. You would need to spray this foam insulation on the internal walls of your container and doing so will create a complete vapour barrier. This will prevent any lingering fumes from harmful chemicals oozing inside your new shipping container home!

Question: Are Shipping Container Homes Hurricane Proof?

I’ve received emails from several people who live in natural disaster hot spots asking me if shipping container homes can withstand hurricanes.

These questions are no doubt inspired from the photo’s we has seen of hurricane Katrina. In the photos it shows wooden homes which have been completely annihilated by Katrina, however lying on top of the wood are completely intact shipping containers.

Palms Trees In Hurricane

Shipping containers are designed to be stacked up to nine high when fully loaded with over 26 tons of cargo in each container. It’s not surprising these containers stood up to the test of Katrina.

We are now seeing a spate of shipping containers being used as emergency disaster housing- this is because they are so tough. The most well-known occurrence of this being in New York.

In April last year (2014) New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program. Guess which prototype won the program?

You guessed it… A Shipping Container Home.

New York aims to use shipping container homes as stackable apartments which can be used as post-disaster housing. The fact that these homes are stackable makes them perfect for densely populated areas such as New York.

You can read more about the post disaster housing program at the Daily Mail.

Whilst I’m not currently aware of any shipping container home which has faced a hurricane, we certainly know that shipping containers can withstand hurricanes.

We have already spoken about Todd Miller’s shipping container home in ourGraceville Container House: Case Study; however for those of you not aware he decided to build a shipping container home using 31 containers!

The home was placed on 9 meter deep micro-pile foundations, the piles were capped with concrete piers and  the containers were then anchored down on top of these concrete piers. Whilst the house was featured on Grand Designs Australia Todd mentioned that his home was now cyclone proof due to the foundations and anchoring used.

What’s also interesting about this example is that he built his home is known flood planes in Queensland. The local planning authority approved the home to be built in this area because in Todd’s plans it showed that the home was flood proof.

Question: Are Shipping Container Homes Secure?

I have received this question a surprising amount of times. When I’ve dug a bit deeper and asked questions back, the people who tend to ask, ‘are they secure’, are planning on using them as a cabin in the wilderness. Hence they want to be able to leave their shipping container home for months on end without having to worry about whether someone has broken into it or not.

To answer this question let’s consider what a shipping container is originally built for. Shipping containers are made to be an air tight impenetrable storage solution which is used to transport goods around the world.

In fact when shipping containers were first used in the 1950’s the amount of ‘lost’ (stolen) cargo dropped significantly as we discussed in: A Complete History of the Shipping Container.

Before shipping containers, goods were placed on ships as break bulk cargo. This essentially means goods were either in sacks, crates or barrels. ‘Light-handed’ labourers were known to steal these goods and it was often known as the ‘price-of-shipping’. However when shipping containers came on the scene in the 1950’s the number of stolen goods dropped massively. This was because shipping containers could be locked by the owner before they were even loaded onto the ship.

So as standard, shipping containers are one of the most secure storage facilities you will come across. However when people convert the container into a home, they often cut away metal and change the structure of the container- hence reducing its security value.

A shipping container converted into a home is just as secure as a traditionally built home.

However, if you want to make your shipping container home even more secure, for instance if you are planning on using it as a cabin in a remote location- you should leave the original structure of the container in-tact.

To do this you would need to fit windows and doors behind the original shipping container doors.

This way when you leave your shipping container home- you can also lock the original shipping container door to seal your container up.

Then when you are staying over in your cabin, you can leave the original shipping container doors open to let light in, yet you will still have you retro-fitted windows and door closed, like a regular house.


The most popular package and contains both ‘How To Build A Shipping Container Home: The Complete Guide’ and the ‘Shipping Container Home Plans Package’ which contains 20 unique shipping container home designs including floor plans and elevations.

It’s been over 10 years since the first shipping container home was built in the US, and more than 20 years since the world’s first shipping container home was built.

Since then shipping container homes have grown from strength to strength.

And this year we are expecting to see a record number of container homes built.

Within our blog we normally focus on building advice, however today I’d like to take the opportunity to address the critics of shipping container homes.

One of the largest critiques of container homes is that it’s a short lived fad and will die out- well to that I say not likely! Containers have been used now for over 2 decades and they aren’t going away anytime soon…


Step 1: Wall Panels

The very first task it to make the wall panels.

To do this, large steel sheets are cut down into 8 foot x 3 foot sheets. The sheets are then sandblasted and corrugated. The sheets are corrugated to add strength to them and this is what gives shipping containers their wave like texture.

Step 2: Floor Frame Assembly

After the wall panel is complete, the floor frame needs assembling.

The floor frame is predominantly made up of I-beams. Two longer I-beams are laid out perpendicular to each other. Then smaller I-beams are welded in between the longer I-beams to create a raft like base.

We see shipping containers everywhere now- they’re being used as homes, swimming pools and coffee stores. With this, it’s very easy to forget where shipping containers came from, and what their original purpose was/still is!

We have already discussed the 20 ways shipping containers changed the world and also how and who invented them.

We know that shipping containers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and today, we want to look at exactly how shipping containers are made.

In a modern world where many things are made by machines now, it was amazing to see this isn’t the case with shipping containers.

Before we go any further, we want to thank Big Steel Box for the video which they have produced- the photos you see below are from the video.

Step 3: Doors and Corner Posts

The front and back of the container now needs making.

Again, like the side walls, the doors are mainly made out of corrugated steel. Once the corrugated steel has been cut to size, it is encased in square steel tubing. The doors are then sanded smooth again to remove any rough welding joints. The famous corner posts are then welded to I-beams and then the individual doors are welded in-place inside the I-beams.

Step 4: Completing the Box

The shipping container really starts to take shape now, as the door frames are craned into position on top of the floor frame. The door frame is welded down and then the wall panels are also craned and welded into position. Finally, the roof panel is then lowered down onto the container and welded, completing the carcass of the container.

Step 5: Painting and Priming

The container is then wheeled into the paint workshop and primed. Priming (undercoating) is the first layer of paint to be sprayed on the container and it is a preparatory coating. This ensures that additional layers of paint stick better to the container; it also provides an additional layer of protection for the container.

Once the primer has dried, the container is spray painted several times. Multiple layers of paint are used to ensure the container is protected against the harsh elements of sea travel such as salt and water.

Step 6: Flooring

The next step is to fit the wooden flooring on top of the floor frame.

Six plywood panels are used to floor the container. However, before they are fitted, the panels are varnished with a protective coating. This protective coating makes sure that bugs and other pests aren’t present in the wood. Once the panels have dried they are placed inside the container and screwed down into the steel floor beams.


 The first step when the shipping container has arrived at its destination is the washing down of the unit. We have discovered that a high-powered spray brush does the best job. These ISO shipping containers can be quite dirty upon arrival. Now, besides the obvious dirt, grim and grease that you will find, you must clean the floor and all the hidden corners. During the wash and scrub of the shipping container you will discover most if not all, the rusty spots. Some rust spots will be worse than others and you may even have some holes in the container. No worries, this is a heavy gauge steel shipping container that probably has a long seaworthy history and many dents from shipyard brawls. The repairs required on the rust spot and holes are very easy with the welding. My advice is to have a can of spay paint handy and spray all the newly discovered rust you find during the cleaning process.

During the wash down do not be afraid to spay the insides of the shipping container and create puddles of water on the shipping container floor. These floors have seen worse and are seaworthy heavy-duty plywood that is impregnated with chemicals and treated to sustain water damage.After the washing of the shipping container then you will turn your focus to sanding down the rust spots. This can be done with any sander you use for wood, even though a more heavy duty sander would get the job done quicker.
After we spot rust then we begin to spot prime the shipping container. We do not prime the entire shipping container, just the areas we sanded. These steel shipping containers already have a solid primer and several coats of protected paint.

Now we are ready to paint.
This is a small inexpensive spay gun that does an excellent job and is easy to clean.

We learned that the spay painting of a shipping container worked best with to people and quick even strokes under a strong sun.
We also discovered that two coats were required. This was perhaps because in most spay guns you have to weaken the pain with some thinner so the flow is quick. Regardless, two coats is always better than one.
What about rust and corrosion? 
Shipping Containers are used for international ocean transportation where there is plenty of humidity and saltwater. The shipping container is made from a special, non corrosive “Corten” steel. Standard ISO shipping containers are coated with a ceramic insulation paint which makes these steel boxes virtually rust proof and also prevents mildew and mold.When paiting the outside of your shipping container you will want to research some of the latest high R-Factor paints on the market.What is an R-Factor Paint? Also know as R-Rating paints and ceramic paint