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The Shipping Container Office Revolution


The Shipping Container Office Revolution

Being quirky and contemporary as well as extremely practical and cost effective, it’s hardly surprising that shipping container office conversions have been on the rise in recent years. Over the last decade or so, the coolest, savviest, smartest and most creative property developers and city planners have been repurposing shipping containers into funky and functional office space for startups, entrepreneurs and SMEs.  

From Bristol to Manchester, shipping containers are becoming hot property, providing quality office and commercial space for small businesses and sole traders across all number of industries.

What exactly has contributed to the rapid rise of shipping container office conversions, which brands are capitalising on the multitude of benefits this trendy office space provides and what does the future for shipping containers look like?

Why Shipping Containers are Ideal for Office Conversions


As the planet heats up and the climate becomes increasingly erratic, a greater emphasis is being placed on businesses to become more ethical and environmentally responsible. Being made from recycled old shipping containers, these re-purposed structures are an extremely eco-friendly choice of office space, meaning companies embracing the shipping container revolution are ‘doing their bit’ for the environment and are consequently seen in a positive, corporate responsible light.


Contributing to the shipping container revolution is the fact these increasingly-popular mobile buildings can be easily transported, making them a great choice of office space for businesses that move around or want temporary commercial space for a specific project.


Shipping containers are easily customisable. Windows and doors can be added where they are required, and the colour and décor can be modified so it conforms to a brand’s unique personality and image.

Charting the UK’s Shipping Container Revolution

Brands and developers across the country are recognising the unique attributes of working in a funky shipping container.

Container City

One of the very first UK shipping container office conversions can be found in Docklands, East London. Known as Container City, this colourful, distinctly-shaped and functional re-purposed shipping container development opened in 2002 as additional space for the Trinity Buoy Wharf arts quarter. Today, this unmissable commercial space remains one of the most distinctive office shipping container conversions in existence.

The Engine Shed

Another city known for its creativity and innovation is Bristol. The creative industries in Bristol have been leading the way in modernising shipping containers into functional, striking and sought-after office space.

One example of a Bristol-based innovator of repurposing old shipping containers into vibrant commercial space is the The Engine Shed, ultra-trendy office space for Bristol’s burgeoning tech cluster. Located in Bristol’s Temple Quarter, the Engine Shed was launched in 2013. Two years later, Bristol City Council granted planning permission for a new workspace called Boxworks, developed next door to the Engine Shed.

The striking development comprises of 20 shipping containers, which have been custom-made to house a host of digital, tech and other modern companies, collectively providing space for up to 120 creative professionals.

The fashionable development is designed to address the shortage of flexible and affordable workspace in Bristol, giving solopreneurs, start-ups and creative businesses the opportunity to work alongside like-minded people in funky, functional and affordable office space made from repurposed shipping containers.

The Hall & Woodhouse Bar

The Hall & Woodhouse Bar in nearby Portishead is another fine example of the west country’s embrace of shipping containers as a practical and spacious alternative to bricks and mortar. In-keeping with the desirable industrial but contemporary ambience of Portishead Quays Marina, this prominent edifice is built from 28 recycled shipping containers, provided by Container City.

Such is the quality and prominence of Hall & Woodhouse Bar and Restaurant waterside venue that the project won the New Build Award and the Campaign for Real Ale Pub Design Awards.


The 90-plus shipping container development is to be used as contemporary co-working hub for Bristol’s thriving start-up, freelance and SME scene. The development comes in the wake of ongoing demand for flexible working space in the Wapping Wharf development of CARGO, Bristol’s first retail yard made of converted shipping containers.


CARGO comprises of two container parks housing independent retailers and is part of Wapping Wharf’s vision to create a trendy new quarter in Bristol for independent cafes, shops and restaurants.

Bristol’s shipping container office space revolution doesn’t stop there. Earlier this year, proposals were made to install 90 or so converted shipping containers into the disused J S Fry warehouse on the corner of Cumberland Road and Wapping Road.

The Future of Shipping Containers

Proven as a quality, robust and fashionable space for offices, retail and other commercial space, the cost-effective, eco-friendly, functional and fashionable qualities of shipping containers could prove to be a viable housing option that could make inroads in overcoming the UK’s shortage of housing, particularly affordable housing.

Again, Bristol is leading the way in the UK’s shipping container revolution, renovating old, disused containers into liveable space with toilets, fridges, sinks, bedrooms and microwaves, to provide accommodation for homeless people in the city.

In other cities around the UK, plans are being put forward to get permission for affordable, eco homes made from shipping containers. For example, in Sheffield plans are being put forward to the council to develop one-bedroom homes made from shipping containers that will cost as little as £35,000.

Growing Produce in Shipping Containers

As well as providing cost-effective, eco-friendly office space and potential housing, shipping containers are being utilised into space for growing food.

In a suburb of Paris, strawberries are being grown in recycled shipping containers, where the fruit can grow at a greater density compared to being grown in a field. The move is part of a project in France to produce more fruit and vegetables in the cities.

With the seemingly endless opportunities shipping containers provide, the shipping container revolution could be just beginning.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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