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5 Surprising Uses for Shipping Containers

Monday, May 09, 2016

There is an increasing awareness of the innovative methods of using shipping containers. These containers are versatile and are used to construct any building imaginable. Owning a ‘bach’ is quintessential to the Kiwi beach lifestyle. Therefore, we will explore and focus on the leisure uses for shipping containers from the ‘bach’ to the artistic retreat. Here are five recreational uses for shipping containers.

Bach Beach Home

In more recent years the humble Kiwi bach has been replaced by the modern holiday home. We are all working longer hours, and look forward to escaping the noise and busyness of city life. Have you considered building a beach hut using shipping containers? A breathtaking beach hut with views of the magnificent Mc Gregor Bay designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan has four bedrooms. The beach home has a large spacious open plan living space, indoor-outdoor flow for the long warm New Zealand summer days. The beach container home is cladded with natural timber and complements the environment, native bush and Coromandel mountains.

Camping Hut

A camping container created by Joel from HyBrid Arc, an American, converted a container for King County Parks in Washington. King Country Parks (200 parks) spans over 26, 000 acres of land in Carnation, Washington. They say this is the first eco-friendly camping container constructed, built with recycled and sustainable materials. A 20-foot shipping container was used and can accommodate a family of four.


A design company in the UK that specialises in converting shipping containers transformed the shipping containers into a relaxing and fun bar in London. They designed and created a lovely atmosphere with a log fire for those cold wintry nights. The Docklounge is built and made of two 40-foot containers and one Hi-cube 40-foot container was modified to form a spacious room. The décor and furnishings transform it into a space that looks like a warm, inviting ski-lodge.

Artistic Retreat

If painting the town red isn’t your style then maybe spending time at a countryside retreat is more appropriate. Cove Park, artists, retreat in Scotland surrounded by 40 acres of rural landscape. The Park consists of 9 retreats. Each retreat built out of a shipping container. Individual containers have an en-suite and have views of the well-known Loch Long. Each container was retro-fitted off site, hence only took four days to install on-site.


SOAK a company in San Francisco, wants to convert recycled shipping containers and create portal spas that are easily transported to other locations when required. Reusing shipping containers as portable spas are not only for aesthetic purposes, and its durability but to restrict the dependency of massive infrastructure. Efficiently retrofitted, effortlessly transported and cost efficient, ideal for short terms projects lasting for a few years. SOAK is earnest about the environment and come with solar panels and a greywater recycling system.

Do you want to put shipping containers to good use? Contact our team of experts or fill out our quick quote online form.

Interesting and Unknown Facts about Shipping Containers

Monday, January 11, 2016
Mankind has shipped goods across the oceans for many thousands of years. However, shipping remains an invisible industry to many of us. It is remarkable that our livelihood depends on it. About 90% of trade conducted globally is carried out by the international shipping industry.  It enables goods to be imported and exported at competitive and reasonable price rates.  Listed below are interesting but not widely known facts about shipping containers.

1. Shipping is the ‘greenest’ method of transportation, as mentioned in the Maersk stories; “a container on our Maersk Triple-E line” since it releases only 3g of Co2 per container versus an airplane which emits around 560g of Co2 per ton.

2. Shipping was re-invented by Malcolm Mclean in the early 1950’s. The construction of the shipping containers by use of metal was to replace the break-bulk method formerly used for transportation of the goods. He later founded the ‘Sea-Land Service’, which further augmented his business.

3. At present, there are over 17 million shipping containers globally, and five or six million are currently transported worldwide, on shipping vessels, trucks and trains. It is estimated that they make around 200 million trips a year in total.

4. New shipping containers are exported from China, it being the largest exporter of new shipping containers.

5. The lifespan of a container is over 20 years plus, on average, if it is well maintained.

6. The concept of Re-purposing or Re-deploying shipping containers as workspaces and homes is believed to conserve a lot of energy, which may otherwise have been expended on melting them for reuse as scrap.

7. Many cities, such as, London, Mumbai, to name a couple, use shipping containers as an easy and cost effective way of providing pre-fab housing. Re-purposed containers have also been effectively used in Berlin, for housing students, and, more recently for housing the asylum seekers. 

8. The process of containerisation has enabled, to bring down the cost of transportation (from Asia to Europe) of electronic goods such as a DVD player to just about 0.8%, and that of a typical TV set to about 1.4% of their final prices to the customer.

9. The biggest container ship in the world today is five times bigger than an Airbus A380. It can transport more than 16,000 containers on each journey.

10. Each container is allocated with its own unique unit number, which is referred to as a box number which can be used by the ships- captains, the crews, the cost guards, the dock supervisors, the customs officers and the warehouse- managers. The box number tells them about the owner of the container, and also about details of the client using the container for shipping their goods. It also helps them to keep a track of the whereabouts of the container during the course of its journey in the world.

If you have any queries, or if you happen to require any assistance when it comes to buying or hiring our shipping containers, do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts will always be glad to assist you round the clock. 

Upcycling of Shipping Containers

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

It has been estimated that there are over 17 million shipping containers in circulation worldwide, and only about one third of these are in active circulation.  Since these shipping containers typically see an active use of only about 20 years, and since they are a resource-intensive product, there is a growing trend to re-purpose (up-cycle) old used shipping containers.  In fact, old shipping containers have a shocking amount of potential applications, many of which are overlooked and typically depend on the creativity of the person using the containers.

Used shipping containers can be re-purposed in order to create a variety of interesting and modern-looking spaces, enclosures, and structures.  In general, these can be categorised into housing structures, yard/landscaping features, recreational applications, commercial applications, structural elements, and artistic designs.

There is already one cleverly designed housing development in London that is made almost purely out of old shipping containers.  These containers were arranged in such ways as to provide comfy lofts and even have built-in windows and staircases.  Other living-related applications include the building of new wings on houses.  Need an extra room in your house, but you’re limited to a tight budget?  Consider designing your new room from an old shipping container.

Even some food truck businesses are being replaced by “food shipping containers”, which are modified to have hinged walls that can be closed overnight but opened for business.  Shipping containers also have the benefit of being fire resistant.  If a grease fire starts in a food truck, at least the whole store won’t burn down.  The container is also usually much cheaper for the business owner than buying a large truck or trailer.

Among the more striking and creative uses of old shipping containers are landscaping applications like sun rooms, gardens, tool sheds, and pools.  A shipping container can have the sides removed and placed onto moving hinges in order to have pop-up walls that can be returned to regular position during bad weather but lowered on nice sunny days.  By simply digging a large hole and filling it with a container with a removed-top, you can have a very basic swimming pool—of course you’ll want to paint the inside white, or another light color.  This sure beats the normal cost of swimming pool installation.  You can even build a multi-use structure that has a tool shed inside, and a garden on top!  If space is limited in your yard, this can be an excellent solution.

The use of shipping containers for novel applications has two major benefits.  The first is the low cost of shipping containers, compared to traditional building materials.  Shipping containers provide the buyer with a pre-made structure that already has great strength and durability and does not require any construction (aside from modifications).  Secondly, there is a great benefit to the environment by using recycled containers, which require a large amount of mined iron and enormous industrial processing.  By using shipping containers for your next do-it-yourself home project, you are potentially saving money and helping the environment.

The Benefits of a Shipping Container Home

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

According to a recent article, New Zealand property prices are set to increase yet again! Even though it has been said that the housing bubble in Auckland (for example) could burst, this still has not happened.  Sadly due to an influx of foreign investors purchasing properties over the last few years, many prospective first-time home buyers can no longer afford the exorbitant real estate prices on offer.

Many of these prospective buyers are now looking at alternative housing solutions which include purchasing shipping containers and converting them into homes.

Using shipping containers to build homes has become a global phenomenon in fact. Just Google “shipping container homes” – select “images”, and you’ll immediately be wowed by the breathtaking container homes which have been built globally.

In Amsterdam for example, the Keetwonen complex built solely out of containers, now houses 1000 students. Each unit within this amazing complex has separate sleeping and studying rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, balcony, and large windows.

A well designed shipping container home is bound to make heads turn, so let’s look at a few benefits which make this alternative housing option so appealing.

1. It’s Cost Effective

The affordability and cost effectiveness of a container home is definitely the number one factor that people take into consideration when exploring this option. Containers are reasonably cheap in comparison to the cost of building materials required to build a basic home.

2. Durable

The structural strength of containers enable them to withstand harsh conditions due to the fact that they are made out of Corten Steel. ( often referred to as weathering steel.) They are also able to withstand wind speeds of up to 281 km/h when anchored with pylons. Utilising these shipping containers as homes make them the perfect candidate to be used in many of the earthquake regions found in New Zealand.

 3. Modular

Yes you’ve read correctly, these shipping container units are modular and thus can be used in the same manner as Lego blocks! Containers can be added or taken away easily, allowing flexibility like never before.

 4. Short Construction Time

Once you have your design and all your building consents have been passed, the construction time is way shorter than building a home in the traditional manner.

 5. Environmentally Friendly

 If you decide on utilising second-hand containers instead of purchasing brand new ones, you’ll actually be making a valuable contribution to our environment.

Recycling the steel from a second-hand container in order to use it elsewhere requires a lot of energy.

 6. Personal Style Statement

Your container home is bound to raise eyebrows as you will not only be making a personal style statement, but you’ll also be perceived as an innovator when it comes to new home designs.


So if you’re considering buying or hiring new or used shipping containers, feel free to either fill out our online quotation form or call SEA Containers NZ at 0508 732266 and speak to one of our friendly team members.

SEA Containers NZ features in Renovate Magazine

Thursday, July 09, 2015

SEA Containers NZ was recently interviewed for a feature article inside Renovate Magazine (issue 15, Pages 92-97) which hit the newsstand in June 2015.

Our very own Auckland and Northland regional manager, Odin Madsen, was happy to pass on his advice to readers of the magazine, along with other companies such as IQ Container Homes (

With shows such as Grand Designs and George Clarke's Amazing Spaces, the popularity of container homes are increasing ... not to mention the growing cost of land around New Zealand's metro areas is pushing our clients to think 'outside of the box', or in this case 'inside the box' and looking at non-traditional building methods.

The containers already have the advantage of structural integrity, plus there portability make them an ideal and practical base to convert into a container house or sleep-out. 

You can read the article on-line 

SEA Containers NZ features in Renovate Magazine

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