4 Surprising Ways People Are Modifying Shipping Containers For Purposes You Never Imagined

Over the last decade, modifying shipping containers and building portable structures out of shipping containers has become more and more common. While this practice has just recently become mainstream in Canada, BigSteelBox Structures has been modifying containers for years, having created more than 1,000 modular structures for a wide variety of clients.

The most popular modifications we make to our shipping containers for customers are modular offices and insulated storage units, but you might be surprised just how easy it is to get creative with shipping containers.

Here are a few unique ways people are using modified shipping containers:

Pop-Up Businesses


Vendors who sell their wares at local fairs and festivals — or even retail or food-related businesses — are often left to set up tents or trailers each time they move from place to place. You can sell anything from handmade jewelry and vintage clothing, to spices and herbs from a shipping container pop-up shop!

Some of these vendors have begun to modify shipping containers into small shops, because this option makes them mobile, while still having the durability and security of a steel structure. These container buildings can be moved by truck, forklift or crane.

Inside, a modified container can be fitted with shelves and racks to hold items, and desks to compete transactions. There can be a walkway for customers to browse through the container and air conditioning and heating systems can also be easily added to keep the space comfortable year-round.

Some pop-up container businesses even have tables and chairs permanently mounted to the custom ramps. When the ramp is pulled down to open the shop, these tables provide seating space outside the businesses. When the ramp is closed, the tables and chairs are neatly tucked into the structure.

When the vendor is ready to move to a new location, they can shut a few drawers or lock a few cabinets to secure their items, and then have it moved to a new location.


Finding space to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers in some cities can be tough, but some businesses (and even private residents) have begun turning shipping containers into greenhouses for this purpose.

The shipping container can be fitted with a glass ceiling which allows plenty of sunlight to shine in. The walls can be constructed from sliding glass panels, allowing them to be opened up in warmer weather and closed when it's cold.

You can maximize the growing space in a shipping container greenhouse by mounting growing trays and baskets directly on the walls. Adding a ventilation system in the ceiling will ensure adequate airflow. Plus, you don't have to worry about the strong, steel structure allowing in pests that might be harmful to the plants.

Site Offices


A BigSteelBox Office is much more durable and secure than wood frame trailers, plus they're built to move. Composed of corten corrugated steel, a BigSteelBox is designed to provide both security and strength in the harshest climates.

BigSteelBox rents and sells 8' x 20' mobile offices. Contact us if you're interested in renting or buying a ready-build modular office for your work site 1-800-373-1187.

Portable Kids' Playhouses

Kids love to have their own space to hang out and play. Tree houses and club houses have always been popular, but today's generation will soon discover shipping container playhouses. Smaller shipping containers (8 or 10 ft) are great for residential use, while larger, multi-container models are the perfect addition to playgrounds and apartment communities.

There's so much room for creativity when creating a playhouse out of shipping containers. From kitchens, to craft rooms, to kids' theater rooms with a television and child-sized lounge chairs, the possibilities are endless. We've even seen playground-like structures where the kids can climb up through a tall structure made from several containers, and then slide down a metal slide mounted on the outside.

Shipping containers are watertight, so you don’t have to worry about leaks in the ceiling. Plus, you can even add spray foam insulation to the walls if you want to add panelling to the interior walls to keep it cool or warm throughout the year.

One great thing about smaller, residential playhouses is that they can be brought along when you move. A towing company can easily move the playhouse to your new home so your child doesn’t have to leave their special space behind.

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