Print Friendly and PDF

How Cargo Containers are Modifying the Norms of Global Urban Living

We take a look at how are shipping containers changing the norms of urban living for everyone.


In this fast-paced technological world, urbanization keeps getting bigger and better. It is a fact that more than fifty percent of the world’s population have chosen urban living. And according to the UN, more than half of the recent global population will want to live in the cities for the next three decades.

The statistics alone are alarming. Indeed, the urbanization boom is exciting. Yet the question on how to solve problems like the housing crisis, the need for social housing, or the increasing of slums remains.

Fortunately, innovative living structures like container houses are reshaping our very idea of home. They are undoubtedly unique, but that adds to their charm. How are shipping containers changing the norms of urban living for everyone? Let us take a look.

• Procuring Reasonable Housing Assets in the Cities

The housing price list of the desirable metros of the world had hit the roof when global investment firms turned to real estate. Although this is not only happening to big cities since the market price of suburban houses are starting to skyrocket as well.
The solution to this issue is reasonable and affordable housing. One trending solution is container apartments like flat-pack buildings structure. These apartments can potentially get tenants as soon as the developers can build them. So the more quickly these apartments reach full occupancy, the more they get to be built.

In Phoenix, renting a shipping container is priced at a thousand US dollars per month. This provides two bedrooms, enough kitchen space, and the inclusion of washer and dryer units. The offer is undoubtedly reasonable enough and within reach for almost middle-class city dwellers.

• Backup Housing Proposition to the Homeless and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

The easy-to-build feature and not to mention its relatively low structuring cost can provide a helping hand to people who are genuinely in need. In the United Kingdom, prefabricated apartment blocks built from modified cargo containers were the first solution to their growing homelessness problem. It only took twenty-four weeks to construct on a plot of unused land to accommodate sixty families with nowhere else to go.

Another relative scenario happened in Mexico City. It was in 2017 when an intense earthquake left thousands of homeless people, and an architect made a series of container homes that let Internally Displaced People (IDP) have a home to call their own again.

• Diminishing Shipping Waste and Structural Costs at the Same Time

Cargo containers are found in every port, estimating more than twenty million worldwide. They are the essentials to make the freight industry progressive. It is surprising to know that new ones are still being manufactured every year as the older ones, even still durable, are being secluded. It is a good thing that some ingenious individuals figured out what to do with the stockpile of withdrawn containers that lead in catering to housing solutions.

The homeowners in the United States report that the average rate to build a new house from scratch this 2019 comes in at $296,828. Yet, this price will significantly vary depending on the cost variables involved. Hence, the amount we are talking about here could range between $150,635 up to $444,315.

A container home, compared to the traditional housing construction, is convenient and economical as it comes with several benefits such as:

It will only cost you a rough estimate of a thousand bucks or two for an empty container.
It can be stacked or positioned side-by-side, depending on what structural design you desire.
It is sturdy and robust since it is made from galvanized steel.
It is resistant to termites, mold, and fire, and
The structure is low-maintenance.

The bottom line here is that container structures possess a sense of balance between the fundamental purpose of a traditional home and the contemporary artistic taste of urbanization.

• Generating Other Out of the Box Ideas for Urban Zones

This hot topic does not rest on apartments. Shipping containers have become the new essential for all types of spaces. In fact, countries all over the world are all together in the movement of utilizing these steel boxes for other purposes aside from living in it. Check out some examples below:

♦ School

Would you imagine that third world countries have gone about using cargo containers as classrooms? Well, they actually did, which is great for constricted resources. Also, some of these classrooms are equipped with solar panels to save money on electricity.

♦ Hotel

Since people are using shipping containers as houses, it is rational to think that they can be remodeled as a hotel as well. Some converted hotels are permanent, whereas others are portable to different locations.

♦ Bridge

An offered project in Israel turned secluded cargo containers into a 525-foot long bridge. It is now a green zone that goes to Ariel Sharon National Park. No one would think that it was a mere landfill before.

♦ Clinic or Hospital

Can not go to the clinic for such reasons? Then let it come to you. These containers are also being used to craft them into portable clinics so that more people can get medical attention. These structures can also be permanent to designated locations.

♦ Food Truck

People can also venture into the food business through repurposing shipping containers.


Modified urbanism is extending rapidly to various parts of the world. If your place has not yet experienced the shipping container trend, then it will surely reach you sooner or later. With the unstoppable population growth centered in urban zones, cargo boxes are significant to address the needs of the people in the 21st century, not only limiting to housing structures.



back to top