As many people are using shipping crates in new and innovative ways, there is also an increase in opponents to this movement and regulators who want to apply by-laws and guidelines to the ways that these portable crates are being used. Christchurch has been in the news in recent months for their crackdown on shipping containers used for houses, and on crates that are present on homeowners properties. Debates sparked after the earthquake-torn area worked to rebuild and many residents found themselves in need of alternative housing options for themselves and their families.
While situations like the debate in Christchurch over what constitutes as a house or building can shed a negative light on the alternative use of portable crates, there are many other ways that people are celebrating the use of these units as innovative design components that are not just a reality of today but are the way of the future.
Designers around the world are applying forward-thinking strategies and working with companies who offer shipping containers for hire to use these units as building blocks for some of the most interesting design that has ever been seen. Some of the ways that architects and designers are using crates are as affordable student housing, office space, multi-storey homes, retail spaces, pop-up shops, hotel, and shopping malls. Portable crates display everything about modern housing design that many people believe the world needs more of: innovative uses, sustainable and affordable options that are accessible for a broad range of people.
Ranging from modest to high-end, portable crate residences are shaking up conventional accommodations and challenge the notion that there’s only one way to use a crate. Designers are turning shipping units on their end, sliding them diagonally on their axis, and stacking them in ways that most people would have never imagined.
Some of the most creative and unique ways of using crates are also centered around sustainability, using elements like solar power and reclaimed wood. Crates in and of themselves are a reusable resource, and enhancing them with other environmentally friendly elements further reduces their carbon footprint and makes using them a truly future-thinking way of looking at housing, office, and retail space.
Designers aren’t trying to make repurposed crate homes look like conventional houses. They’re celebrating their uniqueness by playing up their modular appearance with bold paint colors, unconventional materials, and finishes that add depth and interest to these already visually appealing structures.
Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the way that portable crates are inspiring conversations around the world about the need for new ways of building housing that’s affordable and accessible for more people than ever before, especially in high-density, urban areas where there is an increased need for alternative housing.