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8 unexpected uses for shipping containers

They were once used as secure and watertight steel boxes to transport goods across the world’s oceans.  Today the humble shipping container has taken on a second identity as a versatile and customisable canvas for many unexpected uses.

If you are a follower of our popular Facebook series ‘#1001 Uses for a Shipping Container’, you will know that we are always on the look out for innovative uses for shipping containers. We have certainly found a lot of them.

At Budget Shipping Containers we sell converted containers from our 16 depots across the UK for all kinds of uses, ranging from run of the mill storage containers to the more intriguing pop-up bars for street festivals.  The Case Studies section of our website has lots of examples of our previous projects.

We like to give our blog readers something to think about and show exactly how adaptable shipping containers really are.  There are probably uses that we haven’t even thought of yet but in this post we have picked out 8 unexpected uses for shipping containers that may inspire you to convert one for your pet project.  And if you do, you know where we are.

Ty Cwch Shipping Container Glamping
Ty Cwch Shipping Container Boathouse

Shipping Container Holiday accommodation

Airbnb proves that you can turn almost anything into accommodation, and shipping containers are no exception.  A little while ago we stumbled across a very cool and award-winning Welsh getaway that has been created from converted containers. Ty Cwch is a boathouse set in a secluded cove on the Welsh Coast that has recently been awarded the Mid Wales Tourism Award for Innovation.

The Boathouse is split into three cabins which can each sleep 4 people – hired separately or as one block booking.  The overall look is a bright, quirky glamping experience that is perfect for lovers of the water and getting outdoors.  More pictures here.

There are shipping container hotels popping up all over the world, some like Ty Cwch, are completely self-catered getaways, whilst others are aimed at the higher end of the market like Stow Away – a luxury apart-hotel in Waterloo, which has it’s own onsite pop-up boutique restaurant.

The thing we love most about these shipping container B&B’s and hotels is their quirkiness and their ability to make something that was never designed to be comfortable into something where people go to relax!  We also really like their efforts to continue with the re-use and recycle theme by aiming to be as sustainable as possible – sustainable tourism is definitely a growing worldwide trend so if you are a budding hotelier, a shipping container hotel could be the way forward.

Library of Things Shipping Container
The Library of Things: Credit Sebastian Wood

Shipping Container Library

We have seen a few cool shipping container libraries during our many internet searches.  The most exciting for us is the Library of Things in Crystal Palace, London.  This is the result of a successful community crowdfunding project that raised £10,000 to create ‘a place where you can borrow useful Things like drills, gazebos and carpet cleaners at affordable prices and learn how to use them’.  The Library of Things started life in 2017 as a converted shipping container which they have now outgrown and moved to larger premises.  It’s worth noting here that shipping containers are ideal for growing businesses since you can either move them to a new location when needed and add a converted container to an existing office space.  You could even add on extra containers to your existing one too!  As well as lending useful objects in return for a small membership sub, The Library of Things also offers DIY classes, restart parties and mending meetups to the local community.  It’s a wonderfully sustainable project that began its life from a big recycled box!  The Library of Things website has a section on how to start up your own site.  We would be happy to help anyone who is looking for a home for their neighbourhood library!

Shipping containers are well-suited to more conventional reading libraries too, check out the Tiny Library in Idaho.  This is a small neighbourhood library made from a converted container that has had a big impact on local residents.  It was created on a tight budget (containers are ideal for projects that are short of funds as there are no building costs involved) and welcomes around 500-1000 visitors per month.  Definitely a project that could work in local neighbourhoods or schools in the UK (you know where to find us if you need a container, and we also offer a monthly charity challenge via our Facebook page where you can win sponsorship towards your container – more info here)

Growing mushrooms in Shipping Containers
Growing Mushrooms in Shipping Containers

Shipping Container Garden

Of course, gardening is traditionally an outdoor activity, but urban container gardens are on the rise for several reasons.  Urban communities can struggle for space and resource to grow their own produce but if you have space for a shipping container none of this is a problem.  Urban gardeners can create the optimum conditions inside a container to grow fresh produce all year round with artificial light, controlled temperature and air quality.  An added benefit of container gardens or ‘Vertical Farming’ is the lack of external pollutants and pesticides. It is also very sustainable as it requires less fresh water, and encourages the use of local, fresh produce thus reducing waste and food miles.  If you fancy a go at container gardening, have a look at this Mushroom Container Garden on our website, and while we are not experts in horticulture, we are very good at converting shipping containers.

Beauty salon

Many beauty therapists start their businesses from a room in their own home, or by renting a chair or room at another salon.  Whilst this is great for a start-up business, it can be disruptive to family life and working in another salon is not for everyone – especially when you want one of your own.  This is where shipping containers come in!  Converting a shipping container into a beauty salon in your back garden or onto a business park is a relatively low-cost option for a fledgling beauty therapist.  You can customise your container salon however you wish – and we know how creative beauty therapists can be, so you can really go to town!  We can help by adding in the important elements like painting the container, adding doors, windows, electrics, lighting and water outlets, we can also deliver your container beauty salon via our heavy-duty trucks ready to be connected to the necessary amenities. It is not a complicated process, and our helpful team will talk you through the whole process without any confusing industry jargon.

For inspiration on other beauty salon containers, have a look at Hair Envy. This hair salon in Christchurch, New Zealand was created from a converted container by a stylist who was inspired by creative uses of shipping containers following the Christchurch earthquake.  She found herself a container and converted it to her exact vision and the rest was history!

Container Swimming Pool

You want a swimming pool but the costs of digging one in and maintaining it make it way out of the question, have you considered a shipping container swimming pool?  A container pool can be delivered straight to your back door (providing the truck can get to it and reach that far).  There’s no need to dig up your garden, it’s easier to maintain, and it looks sharp too.  We very much like this container pool overlooking the Canadian mountains, but they could easily work with a UK backdrop too.

Timber Cladded Shipping Container Jacuzzi Hut
Timber Cladded Shipping Container Jacuzzi Hut

Container Jacuzzi

If you really want to feel at one with the outdoors there’s nothing quite like relaxing in your very own hot tub.  But if you prefer the hot tub experience without the chilly outdoors, a container jacuzzi shed might be a better option for you.

This is a project that we recently commissioned for a customer.  A jacuzzi shed made from an upcycled 20ft shipping container with timber cladding, a raised walkway, small lockable storage area and a changing area.

As with all of our container conversions, this was entirely made to order, and we can make something to your specific requirements too.

Container Art Gallery

It is our humble opinion that shipping containers themselves can often resemble a quirky art installation.  It takes a lot of creativity to transform a container into something completely different.  So why not make containers into galleries and studios to home other pieces of art too?  We recently discovered the SE9 Container Art Gallery in Eltham, London.  This award-winning gallery is based in the grounds of a local school and plays host to contemporary art, and ongoing exhibitions too.

In times when business rates and rental costs are so high, a converted shipping container is a very doable option for someone who wants to set up their own art gallery.  And we would love to help, so feel free to get in touch.

Event Space

Under Armour Publicity Stunt

Event professionals are a creative and imaginative bunch so it is no surprise that we are often contacted by event companies who would like our help in creating a cool, contemporary event space for a product launch or pop-up exhibition.  There are lots of examples of container event spaces in the case studies section of our website but one of our favourites has got to be the floating containers we supplied to Knight Rigging Services for their Under Armour campaign.  This innovative campaign involved supplying 8 of our used shipping containers which were transformed into giant floating billboards to float along the River Thames as part of their product launch campaign.  As you can imagine, they created quite a stir!

If you are an event professional with an event you need help with, we would love to offer our expertise and services.

So there you go!  These are our 8 favourite unexpected uses for shipping containers, we have many more and we are always on the lookout for new and innovative projects to work on.  We love a challenge, so feel free to look us up! offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 7pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).

Under Armour photo courtesy of and

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