When Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container, he had no idea that after a few decades, people would be using freight containers to construct houses and other architectural structures. Metal shipping containers revolutionized not just the entire logistics, but the idea of container architecture with new or used shipping containers also came along with this.

They help the shippers to transport goods internationally and to store the cargo before sailing for shipment. However, apart from these important functions, they have various uses in construction sites as well. Architecture using new and used containers is becoming a common trend these days.

What is Container Architecture aka Cargotecture?

Shipping container architecture is a type of architecture that uses new or second-hand containers to construct new structural components. It is also referred to as “Cargotecture”, a hybrid of cargo with architecture. The shippers use cargo containers to transport cargo as they are strong Cor-ten steel boxes that make them strong and sturdy to endure harsh weather conditions and rigorous handling.

An increasing number of people are now becoming aware of the environmental issues that are concerning the entire world population in today’s time. Many people are following the steps to protect our planet Earth. With the world’s increasing population, there are deteriorating supplies of non-renewable resources. The alarming rate of climate change is making people switch to building with shipping containers.  It enables people to create a new home while being eco-friendly at the same time.

Today, there are approximately 50 million cargo units in the world, transporting goods ranging from construction material, food items, to toxic hazardous cargo. They make up for a huge part of the revenue in the logistics industry, as everyone needs to use them to make their cargo reach the destined location.

As the prices of keeping empty shipping containers from their origin are pretty high, people often keep them at ports in unused condition. A more viable option is to purchase a new shipping container for each shipment, as compared to the expensive task of bringing back the old boxes.

The trend of Cargotecture has evolved over the recent years. Both, second-hand and brand-new cargo units are easy to construct fully operational buildings, houses, and living and working spaces. These constructions realize the complete potential of discarded freight containers. They eliminate the time-consuming and expensive task of constructing a building using the traditional methods from scratch.

What are the pros and cons of Shipping Container Architecture?

Cargotecture has been in the industry as a recent addition. But everything comes with perks and disadvantages. Here is a list of some pros and cons of shipping container architecture.


Cargo container buildings are an inexpensive option as they are ready-to-use boxes. A cargotecture project is approximately 30% cheaper than a traditional construction project.

Strength and durability
Steel shipping containers are mainly for the transportation and storage of cargo all over the world. As they are strong and robust, they are resistant to wear and tear harsh climatic conditions, and any other unprecedented mishaps.

Shipping units are mostly not used up to their complete potential, which makes them a threat to the environment. Reusing saves a lot of energy and the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.


Health Hazards
Shipping containers are not built for human residence purposes. They are manufactured using non-friendly elements like lead-based elements, solvents, paints, etc. These substances are harmful to humans if they decide on refurbishing a shipping unit into a living or working space.

The container might have also transported some harmful toxic cargo at some point. The smidgens are likely to remain inside the used shipping containers even after they have been restored. 

Quick absorption of heat and cold
Shipping containers are large, sturdy boxes of steel and as a result, they tend to absorb heat or cold very swiftly. This is a very dangerous risk, yet avoidable if there are arrangements for temperature control in them.

The green myth
Another shortcoming of container architecture is that it is not always a green option as one thinks. Some people prefer purchasing a new shipping unit which defeats the purpose of cargotecture as used containers should be used for the same which is the environment-friendly option. To make the cargo unit fit to live in, the modifications require a lot of energy and exhaustion of fossil fuels.

What are some common applications of Container Architecture?

Due to its versatility and durability, cargotecture is a popular trend as they come as a cleaner and greener alternative. Here is a compiled list of some industries that are switching to freight units instead of traditional construction methods.

If you had to purchase a shipping container a while ago and don’t want to sell your cargo container, then cargotecture is the solution to your problem. 


Shipping container homes are a durable, cost-effective, and more convenient option to use in place of a traditional home. They are easy to construct and modify, and one can move them to any place in the world.


Modular schools and classrooms can be designed from portable shipping containers and are an efficient solution for the development of schools and education especially in the rural and remote areas of underdeveloped nations.


Repurposed shipping containers can provide remote, movable clinics, hospitals, and emergency healthcare facilities during times of crisis like a pandemic or war.


The construction sector has widely accepted cargotecture. They come to be extremely worthy for building office spaces, cafes, restaurants, theatres, swimming pools, theatres, etc.


The concept of container architecture is prevalent in the industrial sector, as one can convert them into storage areas or warehouses to keep goods like raw materials and manufacturing equipment.

The world has begun to witness the threat our planet earth is facing. Even the smallest step taken by every individual to protect the environment is a huge step. Many countries are embracing the idea of building construction sites with revamped, used shipping containers. They are a unique and sustainable alternative for people who want a creative addition to their lives.

If you also don’t want to live in the suburbs and want that spark in your life by getting yourself a modular shipping container home, BOXXPORT is there to help you with a plethora of container options. Buying and selling shipping containers have been immensely simplified with us as everything is just a click away.