Innovative Retail Space Shows Shipping Containers at their Finest

The new Kirby Lane development in Nelson is underway, using converted shipping containers as trendy retail spaces for all to enjoy. Using some of Christchurch’s post-earthquake developments as inspiration, Kirby Lane will create a space of retail, office space, restaurants and services, designed to bring residents, shoppers and community members together to celebrate alternative spaces while providing an enjoyable place to spend time.


The Kirby Lane development is designed to be an area where people can shop, dine, and relax and enjoy the open-air shopping atmosphere, complete with kids play areas and green spaces. Kirby Lane will be a destination for shoppers who crave a more personal experience where they’ll mingle with local artists and small business owners in a new and exciting environment, with shipping containers as the main design element.


The Kirby Lane project will feature retail spaces ranging from 13 to 60 square meters, challenging retailers and artisans with creating a shopping experience for their customers in close quarters. Business owners of all kinds are attracted to shipping containers that are for hire as retail or restaurant locations that fly in the face of traditional real estate models which can be expensive and hard for small business owners to sustain a lease in. Kirby Lane provides those business owners with a unique model for their business, and an affordable one at that. The base lease rate of Kirby Lane’s small space portable crate retail spaces is economical and accessible for even the smallest startups.


Businesses will share utilities like waste disposal and toilets and will also share marketing services as a way to save money for each business when they combine their efforts together. This type of sustainable, affordable, and forward-thinking development project has created many discussions on the future of retail and the use of portable crates for alternative uses.

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With an over-supply of portable crates around the world, using these units in new and innovative ways allows people to repurpose crates and create sustainable options for businesses and homeowners. In addition to being used for retail and restaurant spaces, portable crates are popping up everywhere, as tiny homes, multi-family complexes, and building components.


Developments like Kirby Lane may inspire people in other areas around the world to create similar spaces or to use converted crates in other unique and new ways that are affordable and beneficial to their tenants and residents. With use of portable units for multiple purposes comes the need for regulating these unique spaces by City councils, which is sure to spark debates among officials and proponents of alternative housing, office and retail space. One thing is for certain and that is that using portable crates in new and innovative ways is a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.