Are you ready to be different than everyone else? Are you wanting to build something out of a box? If you are saying yes to both questions, shipping containers may be a route for you! ISO containers are a great way to build a unique structure that can be within reach of the average person.

Shipping containers were designed for storing and transporting goods. However, there are so many different ways to upcycle steel containers into a wide variety of new structures.

So, what can you REALLY build with a shipping container? The short answer is really - anything! - even if shipping containers are commonly used by business and home owners. Containers provide a scalable building block to create extra storage, retail space, restaurants, homes and so much more. Here is a general list along with images of how containers have been and are continuing to be utilized:  

  • Storage and Sheds. Sure it is the most basic use, but containers are great at storing things.

  • Cabins, guesthouse, tiny homes and vacation/main houses. The hottest trend in the past few years in containers is container architecture.

  • Offices and building extensions. Containers can add in extra space for people too. Containers can fitted out with insulation, electricity and desks easily.

  • Fire training stations. Containers can be burned again and again! As long as you replace that wood floor with something that doesn’t burn. We have all sorts of ideas on how to change the space to keep your team on their toes.

  • Saunas, pools and pool houses. Who doesn’t want one of these?!

  • Food trucks, restaurants and bars. Containers make everything more fun!

  • Portable toilets. Ground-level entry that can be moved to wherever you need them. And everyone will be happy they’re not a port-a-potty.

  • Retail shops and malls. Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas is a perfect example of how to take a great, creative idea and make it a reality.

Food trucks take over Toronto

Food trucks take over Toronto

Las Vegas , here we come!

Las Vegas, here we come!

  • Bistros and coffee shops. Starbucks has been running with this idea for a few years, but there are so many more takes on getting caffeine to those in need.

  • Student housing facilities and schools. The most classic example of this is TempoHousing in Amsterdam.

  • Emergency hospitals/disaster shelters. Containers can be moved around quickly and easily, making them a choice for quick response. The real hold-up here has been finding the way to create government-approved solutions that can be made where they are needed and at the right price point.

  • Nurseries and indoor gardens. This is such a great, sustainable way for locally grown food just about anywhere. Check out how they do it in Antarctica, Las Vegas and just about anywhere you can set down a container.

To find the right container for you, just contact us directly at 877-374-5452. We’d be happy to help make your vision a reality!

LightHotel all lit up at night

LightHotel all lit up at night

The view from the doorway

The view from the doorway

What happens when your brilliant customer makes a hotel room out of one of your containers? Answer: You stay in it!!
Geoffrey Warner, AIA, the founder of Alchemy and weeHouse created LightHotel as an ecotourism alternative. They started with a 20' container from Super Cubes. We added in the windows and door for the utilities. The LightHotel team created a solar-powered, self-sufficient, stand-alone hotel room.  Naturally, we were excited to get to stay there.

The LightHotel has been traveling around Minneapolis, St Paul and the surrounding area to various events and festivals, including being stationed outside the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair. Recently, the LightHotel officially became an approved for rental as an RV hotel. You can reserve it through AirBnB by clicking here. As soon as LightHouse announced the approval, we rushed to get our reservation!

We decided to reserve it for a Saturday night. We arrived around 4:00pm. I took this video before we moved in. They had left us some bubbles since they knew we were coming with our son and meeting up with a couple of other families.  Our son was totally enthralled with the container and checking it all out. It is currently parked in the parking lot for a community garden in St Paul. We saw trains coming by and people gardening.  When our friends arrived, we showed off our home for the night. The adults love the nice finishes and space-saving measures taken to make the container feel really nice. The kids all thought it was very fun.  From there, we set off to one of the neighborhood tap rooms that has food trucks and entertainment for kids.

The hotel is currently next to a community garden.

The hotel is currently next to a community garden.

When we came back from dinner, we did some more bubbles and sidewalk chalk art and enjoyed checking out the container by night. We happened to reserve it on one of the hottest nights we've had so far this summer. The windows did provide some cross-breeze and there was a fan in the container. The container has a heater, this is Minnesota after all!  But does not have air condition because the amperage is too high with the current set up. We turned on the fan, created a little nest area with a sleeping bag for a son, and settled in for the night.

The container does have its own water system that gets refilled and emptied, so showering is an option. We skipped showering in the morning since we were heading right home and had packed light. It also has a composting toilet.

Watching trains from the patio of the hotel room.

Watching trains from the patio of the hotel room.

The container was a fun night's stay. The hotel room felt like it put the glam in glamping for us. Since we work with so many people interested in tiny homes and making homes from containers, it was a thrill to get to stay in one for the night. We do not have a cabin, like so many Minnesotans, but a 40' container with a kitchen added on would definitely be a fun option. LightHotel really took the decor in a different direction than many of the tiny homes that you see on TV. It had a very sleek, yet fun feel to it. We also thought it would be fun to stay in it in the winter. I would think it would be so snug and cozy. It had such a warm, welcoming feeling at night. The walls glowed in the light.

While we know a tiny home would not fit with our current situation, there is something so appealing about the compactness of tiny living. Hotels offer that great middle ground where you can try it out without committing your whole family to a huge change. Urban areas are often so densely populated and space is so expensive, tiny hotels seem like a great alternative for tourists. They also lend themselves to leaving small footprints both in terms of water and energy.

Would you want to stay in a tiny hotel? What appeals to you most about it?  What appeals to you least about it? Would you consider having one moved around to different locations like an RV or are you more tempted to have one already set up and ready for you in a place you want to visit?

The cozy hotel room at night.

The cozy hotel room at night.

LIGHTHOUSE (a 20's container hotel room) was featured at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' Third Thursday series on sustainability.

LIGHTHOUSE (a 20's container hotel room) was featured at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' Third Thursday series on sustainability.

LIGHTHOUSE premiered their 20' container hotel room yesterday at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' Third Thursday.  LIGHTHOUSE, in their own words is "an urban ecotourism beacon and postcard for sustainability."  For a full description and drawings of the container, click here or here for info from the MIA. Alchemy Architects, the builders of WeeHouse, led the project.  The added bonus - the container came from Super Cubes!!

Super Cubes and Alchemy worked together to find the right container for their needs.  We added in two openings for them for the windows.  We then brought the container over to the U of MN for students from the College of Design and various other partners to insulate the container and finish it with incredible high-end materials to create a self-sustained container.  It is powered by solar power on the roof.  It has a closed water system so it does not need to be connected to water and sewer, allowing the container to go to all sorts of different places.

The layout of the container makes the most of every cubic inch of the container.  The container doors open to a wall of glass including the entry to the container.  There is a small seating area by the big windows.  There is a small step up (to provide room for the plumbing below) to a smaller area with the sink and the door to the bathroom.  The small bathroom has both the toilet and shower in one.  Beyond the sink and door to the bathroom is the bed with a large window.  The bedroom area is narrower than the front front of the container because the mechanical room takes up a small area next to the bedroom.  That area is only accessible from the outside of the container which makes servicing the container easier without disturbing guests.

Naturally, Super Cubes went to the big reveal at the MIA event. I took pictures and videos of the container.  I was accompanied by my associate who thought the whole thing was fascinating. Apologies in advance for the less-than-steady video, but the container was attracting a TON of excitement so there were lots of people in a small area.

I also took some videos.  Apologies that they are not that great.