Past and the future of the Shipping Container

  • Past and the future of the Shipping Container

    Past and the future of the Shipping Container

    The Shipping container was invented in 1956. by an American entrepreneur Malcom McLean. Worlds first container ship “Ideal x” set sale in 1956. Carrying 58 shipping containers from New York to Houston. It was truely remarkable invention for human population, because in so many ways it eased the transportation of goods and minimized the costs related to it.

    Here are 10 ways how shipping container has changed the transportation industry:

    • Before shipping containers, individual goods were loaded directly onto cargo ships or trucks. This was know as break-bulk shipping
    • An average ship would take up to 200.000 individual pieces of cargo
    • Before shipping containers 60-75% of the cost of the transporting was made up of portside costs including labour, loss of time and damage ( including theft) to cargo
    • Before Shipping containers loading cargo $ 5,86 per ton.
    • It now only costs $ 0.16 to load cargo.
    • Before containers cargo could be loaded at around 1.3 tonnes per hour
    • Cargo can now be loaded at rate more than 10.000 tonnes per hour
    • In 1955 0% of goods were shipped using containers,
    • Now over 90% of every purchase is being shipped inside a container.
    • The largest container ship can carry over 19.000 containers


    In 21st century human population is finding more and more uses for shipping containers. The most adopted one is creating homes, offices and other infrastructure. They are considered as an ideal building material because they are durable, stackable, cutable, movable and relatively cheap.

    More and more green (ecological) countries are trying to keep up with climate changes and are building facilities of any purpose out of recycled shipping containers. For example in Tukwila, Washington there is a StarBucks drive-through store (450 square feet) and its consisted of 4 containers.


    In Jerusalem they have constructed an orphanage out of total 28 shipping containers. The village is fitted with solar thermal and photovoltaic  electricity system so it makes this Orphanage self-sustainable.



    In Germany they are building Student homes out of containers. This one is constructed in Berlin in 2014., there will be 3 in total in this students village.Platoon, Kunsthalle - Berlin, Germany - 40 Shipping Container Cargotecture Building (3)

    And in Indonesia they are making libraries out of containers. The recyclable containers used in the construction of this library cost 820$ each.



    If you are thinking about it, having a new-built container home will cost you anywhere from about $ 1.500 to $ 2.000 per square meter. The only serious obstacle you could face is your local authority`s regulation on container homes. On the other hand, if you lived in Norway, you could set your home anywhere you like, because all the public land in Norway belongs to the people, therefore you are allowed to use any land that is not in the ownership of other person.

    shipping container house archdaily

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