10 Innovative Uses for Shipping Containers

10 Innovative Uses for Shipping Containers

The use of shipping containers as shops, offices and retail outlets is on the rise. Not only are they are a fantastic way of being part of the solution to helping address the country’s ongoing property and accommodation problem, but they offer a way of being environmentally conscious, reducing the amount of clutter and waste, and creating a home, restaurant or office at a fraction of the cost of your average property. Shipping containers lend themselves to a wide range uses, in many cases solving a plethora of today’s social and business demands. Here are 10 of the most innovative and creative. 

Cafes & Restaurants

Why not? With the right innovation, design and decor, shipping containers can be transformed into venues to entertain and feed the hungry, thirsty masses. In fact, CARGO – situated on Bristol’s Harbourside – is an innovative retail development made up entirely of shipping containers that have been converted into an incredible and hugely popular hub of restaurants, cafes and shops. 


Shipping containers are becoming increasingly popular with independent retailers. They provide a funky, cost effective solution for office space. At Bristol’s Harbourside’s Cargo, you’ll find a butcher, cheesemonger, jeweller, art gallery and a gift shop all thriving in shipping container units. This is replicated across the country with many small businesses looking for flexible retail space at an affordable rate, and so this trend looks set to continue. 


Education is a priority for everyone and, with budgets tight pretty much everywhere, it’s not easy for many schools to get the extra facilities they need. Enter, then, the shipping container, which has over recent years been an extremely viable, cost-effective, go-to way of dealing with issues of much-needed extra space. Used as either a temporary or permanent resolution, they’re also easier to obtain and more accessible than the complicated, problematic issue of actually building a new classroom or entire school. 


As with schools, shipping containers are the inescapably ideal way to expand the emergency services infrastructure. As mobile hospitals or emergency units they’re a more affordable but excellently robust alternative. And in countries or areas that are particularly disaster prone, for example, they offer an easily transportable, quickly available means of emergency aid in places where hospitals might not easily be accessible. 

Studios & Art Galleries

Offering an excellent, intimate space for an artist to exhibit their work, shipping containers are also a increasingly useful alternative to hiring out often costly exhibition and studio space. Similarly, musicians and bands always need somewhere to practise and purchasing a shipping container is a solid, long-term investment. 

Swimming Pools

“What?” we hear you cry. “Shipping containers as swimming pools?” Oh, absolutely. If you do it properly with the correct physical changes, appropriate engineering, ladders, filters, lighting and the like, they’re a marvellous, perfectly adequate, long-lasting alternative.  



Naturally, shipping containers are nowadays most widely used as an alternative to the modern home, and there’s a raft of affordable property solutions on the market. Cost effective, easily available, fun and practical, it’s no small wonder they’re becoming a favourite substitute for the standard bricks and mortar. 

Emergency Shelter

In the case of housing shortages, natural disasters and even wars, shipping containers have been converted into emergency places of refuge. And in Bristol, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs and charities have joined forces to address the issue of homelessness by creating an eleven-strong container village, where shipping containers have been converted with all mod cons to give the city’s most vulnerable people a safe, comfortable place to live. 

Food Banks & Kitchens 

With the unfortunate rise of housing problems and food poverty, shipping containers are being used, particularly in countries like America, as mobile kitchens and food banks where food can be prepared and handed out to those in need. 

Retail & Office

Contemporary offices are popping up all over the place – but, of course, the design, planning, construction and operating costs mean they overall package can expensive. With many small businesses looking for flexible office space at an affordable rent, shipping containers are a terrific option: affordable, comfortable, adaptable and, let’s face it, a uniquely awesome, alternative way of spending your day in an office environment. 

As lead contractor at Bristol’s Cargo development the Mobius team are expert in converting shipping containers into restaurants, shops and offices nationwide.  Contact us to find out more.

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