Thinking Inside the Box: Part II

By: Veronica Meewes 

Still curious about innovative recreations of shipping containers? Lucky for you, neither these steel boxes nor creativity are in short supply. In part II of our Thinking Inside the Box slideshow, we have found more places to eat, drink and play inside refurbished containers, but also ways shipping containers are being used to grow food.

ICYMI: See what we dug up in Part I.

FAST Shipping container facts:

  • "Containerization" refers to when goods are put into containers, instead of loaded individually on to a ship, truck or plane. 
  • Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container in 1956.
  • There are at least 20 million shipping containers in existence today. 
  • Ninety percent of our "stuff" finds itself in a shipping container at one point or another. 
  • You can purchase a shipping container for about $2,300. 

Seven (More) Ways to Reuse Shipping Containers:


1. CropBox

CropBox is changing the face of agriculture by offering a shipping container farm system that yields a considerable amount of environmental and economic benefits, including eliminating the need for pesticides, highly reducing the use of fertilizers and water used, allowing for year-round production and decreasing transportation costs by allowing for growth at the point of consumption.


2. Picnik

Mark Meyer of The Design Studio in Austin originally designed and refurbished this shipping container for a bakery called La Boite. Kevin Ward of Hardwood Design Co. refurbished it once again before Picnik opened in La Boite's place in April 2013. How’s that for double reuse?


3. Quartyard

 Three designers from the firm RAD Lab completed Quartyard this year. Realizing how much city-owned land remained vacant until it was ready to be developed, the designers used recycled and retrofitted shipping containers to temporarily occupy an empty lot in San Diego’s East Village.


4. The Yard at Mission Rock

Project manager Mark Hogan and his team at OpenScope Studio collaborated with Gehl Studio to create The Yard at Mission Rock, a temporary neighborhood project created on the future site of Mission Rock, a 3.6 million square foot mixed-use development in San Francisco. The Yard, which just opened this March, is made from 13 upcycled shipping containers and features an Anchor Brewing beer garden, a cafe by Peet’s Coffee, retail shops like The North Face, food trucks curated by Off the Grid and a pedestrian plaza with movable street furniture.

5. Freight Farms: The Leafy Green Machine (shown as banner image)

Freight Farm’s flagship product, The Leafy Green Machine, is a hydroponic growing facility built entirely inside a shipping container. Using indoor growing technology and environmental control, crops are grown year-round regardless of weather, and a series of related apps allow farmers to monitor their operation from any location and purchase all supplies from their smartphone.

6. Transitional Storage Center

The Girls Think Tank, a San Diego non-profit that advocates for the homeless, commissioned RAD Lab to design four locker storage units for homeless individuals to safely store their personal belongings (thus allowing them to work, attend classes, use public transportation and eventually transition back to housing). The design firm used four containers to create a total of 304 lockers, and the storage center currently has 353 lockers available for use. 

7. Market 707

Market 707, initiated in 2011, is Toronto’s first shipping container market, which provides a home for 17 business with rents starting as little as $12 Canadian dollars a day. Street food options are plenty, from Afghan cuisine to Japanese fried chicken to dim sum. Retail shops include Mini Mani Manicure, Spin Can bike repair and SELLTECK electronics .