Long gone are the days when shipping containers were only utilised to transport goods across countries and continents, they are now often also renovated into quirky homes, pop up bars, plant nurseries, and even swimming pools!

Aberdeen-based Greenwell Equipment is a leading UK supplier of new and used containers and in recent years there has been an increase in North-east people getting more creative with containers, particularly for garden home offices for remote working.

However, across the world shipping containers are being renovated into some inspirational uses, including schools and hospitals in poorer parts of the world where constructing traditional buildings can be expensive. Some have even been turned into emergency rooms in a fantastic demonstration of contemporary engineering.

In London, Boxpark was created as a concept which refits and repurposes shipping containers to offer food, drink and other retailers an affordable and flexible option to showcase their brands. Launched initially in Shoreditch in 2011 as a pop-up shopping mall, it has since become a stable in the east London scene and now, with a further two sites in Wembley and Croydon it is the biggest food, culture and social hubs in London with local communities at the heart.

In the Netherlands, architects are industry leaders in building with shipping containers with projects including the world’s first container campus for students which was built to tackle a shortage of student housing in Amsterdam. In Copenhagen, there is also the Urban Rigger project, which is floating student accommodation.

As well as home garden offices, shipping containers can be transformed into many uses, such as a quirky garden shed, a play area for children, or an indoor farm or greenhouse! In North Carolina, there is a business that used containers to grow crops from lettuces to strawberries which are then sold in their café, with the added bonus of not needing acres of land to yield crops.

With a little imagination and inspiration, the humble shipping container can be more than just a means to transport goods around the world.

So, if you’re inspired to carry out a renovation, what should you be looking for in a good, used container?

  • Check the general appearance - used containers will show some wear and tear but minor bumps and scrapes are fine, providing no daylight is shining through.
  • Check the doors thoroughly for any corrosion
  • Check that the seals are in tact
  • Make sure that the doors and handles work freely
  • Check that the floors are in good condition
  • Check that the corner posts are free from any major damage.

Boasting vast experience and knowledge in shipping containers, Greenwell can offer advice on any container requirements, whether you have a budding ambition to renovate one into a funky new office, a coffee shop, a salon or a sauna….the choice is yours!