Who was the first person to build a shipping container home?


It turns out, the answer to this question is not so simple. Since the shipping container has been around since the 1950’s (learn more about the history of shipping containers on our last blog post), there have been many other creative uses of the shipping container documented in the last 60 years!

Who was the visionary that first saw the humble shipping container, and thought, “Hey, that could make a great home”? Well, we aren’t completely sure, but if we look at public records, the first sign of shipping container homes can be pinpointed to Philip C. Clark, who filed for a US patent for his “method for converting one or more steel shipping containers into a habitable building” in 1987. Although, this was the first public patent for the purpose of a “habitable” building, we can see other patents and movie cameos of shipping container architecture dating back to the 1960’s.

Since this patent, there have been many creative uses for the shipping container:

  • In crowded cities like Amsterdam, the city is building low-income and student housing out of abandoned shipping containers.
  • In Africa, there have been several mobile schools built out of recycled shipping containers. Some are even wifi-connected and run on solar power energy!
  • In places like North Carolina, people are converting old shipping containers into green-houses and indoor farms.
  • In the UK, people are building above-ground heated and filtered pools out of old shipping containers!
  • Shipping containers have piqued the interest of bar owners and restaurateurs as they continue to look for exciting, new  experiences to give their patrons. There is even a Container Bar in Austin, TX!
  • In Israel, architects used old shipping containers to make a bridge that converted an old landfill site into a colorful, innovative nature center.

Innovation in the way of shipping architecture is just getting started! What are some other interesting ways we can use shipping containers to revolutionize our lives? Leave your ideas in the comments!

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