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When an idea forms and the conversation becomes about space, time, and budget, "shipping containers" are increasingly becoming the answer to satisfy these project requirements. This versatile commodity has become “all the rage” for projects across the spectrum: everything from developing mid-steps towards affordable housing and ending homelessness to interactive marketing experiences, or blank canvases that can fill a void with an artist's touch, these building blocks possess an endless potential for creativity and usability.
Purpose aside, when a container solution is durable, easy to move, quick to set up, cost-effective, accessible, and can take on as much or as little aesthetic as desired, it is difficult to justify continuing to do things in a more traditional and sometimes cost-prohibitive way.
Here are seven exciting modular trends we expect to see more of in 2021:
Every inch of space is smart and multi-purpose in the ComfortCube™. This unit comes with everything you need – a kitchen, washroom facilities, living and sleeping area all packed into 160 sq. ft. With thoughtful and modern features like a kitchen cart drop set, hidden pull-down bed, and soft close cabinets, one could easily make this humble cube a home.
Unlike traditional structures made of wood, container kiosks have grown in popularity because of their ease of maintenance, customizable aesthetic, and security. With modifications like large flip windows, finished food grade walls, industrial-style hood ranges for food preparation, racks or hooks to display products, and the inherent movability that comes with shipping containers, small business owners can use kiosks to sell their products anywhere and rest assured that their assets are safe and secure when it's time to close up for the day.
Every city has a corner or two that could use reviving, and what better thing to use than a blank canvas like a container? Between vinyl wraps, creative stacking or placement, or custom paint jobs, municipalities can turn any alleyway or nook into a purposeful, lively, and Instagram-worthy community space.
Photo credit: Barneveld.Noord
Shipping containers naturally lend themselves well to public areas like transit stations, walkways and pedestrian bridges, or viewing stands because they entail elongated spaces, can accommodate many passersby, provide overhead shelter if needed, employ a standalone and simple design, and require little maintenance.
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Keeping with the theme of multi-purpose spaces, why not provide some visual relief on a busy street by providing a resting stop, accompanied by the ambience of green space? Modifying containers so they are cut in half or simply opening up the side walls to accommodate the free flow of a breeze can quickly change the environment of a busy concrete corridor, while simultaneously giving you a place to rest your feet!
Similarly, the Container Swing is a modular vision for moments of joy while navigating through high-traffic tourist spaces. Complete with a set of four swings and two hand sanitizer units to uphold public health and safety, the Container Swing is a structure that promotes the variability and use of container structures and a product of inspiration from the musical swings seen on the busy streets of Montréal.
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Since traditional events and gatherings have taken a backseat for the foreseeable future, drive-thru events allow you to be entertained, be out of the house, yet still safe and socially distant. Drive-thru events can include everything from multimedia installations, drive-in movie theatres, platforms for action figures and mascots, music experiences and more.
Photo credit: Alberta Cancer Foundation
Shipping containers are used to build the structure for these kinds of events because they are weather-friendly, can provide a flow for traffic, and are flexible enough to create attractive spaces that are aligned to the event's needs.
Photo credit: Mars Climbing
Brands love incorporating modular structures for experiences where the public is meant to interact with space, such as festivals, climbing walls, pop-up galleries, escape rooms, or other immersive causes. Much like their other uses, brands choose shipping containers because they are easy-to-setup and pack up, and easy to mould and design unique, brand-focused installations.
Containers have been used all over the world for a multitude of creative or industrial purposes, and are increasingly being thought of as the structure of choice where they would traditionally not have been used previously. Consumers, artists, and businesses are intrigued by this paradox of use (movement and permanence) and spectrum of aesthetic that creates both the tension and energy of a unique presence.
Simply put, shipping containers continue to grow in popularity where the common goals include attracting people and utilizing budget and resources in effective and creative ways.