The next time you’re standing in front of the newest Starbucks in your neighborhood, take a closer look. It may look a bit out of place to you, and you may not be able to quite put your finger on it. Could it be that new coffee shop is actually built out of shipping containers? It’s quite possible! Starbucks is just one retailer who has begun to use recycled steel shipping containers in its new builds.
Steel shipping containers reduce the impact that retailers have on the environment. The containers are already assembled, reducing the energy used for new construction. They also take up less space once settled into their new locations, reducing the destruction of local habitat. Here are several shipping containers stores that can be found around the world:
Located in Tukwila, Washington, the Starbucks coffee shop opened in December of 2011 and has received a tremendous amount of interest. The drive-thru/walk-up outlet is constructed with four shipping containers. Three measure 40-feet long and one measures just half that, at 20-feet long.
Starbucks chose to experiment with shipping containers in order to fulfill their mission of reducing the company’s carbon footprint, using their power for good and providing a gathering place for local citizens. Hoping to lead by example, the new Starbucks café is the first LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) business in Tukwila. The store’s portability has the company seriously considering utilizing more container stores as it continues expanding.
Boxpark @ London
Also opened in December of 2011, London’s newest shopping center, Boxpark, has drawn the attention of the world. Claiming to be the world’s first “pop-up” mall, the shopping center is comprised of stores taking up no more than three shipping containers each. Sitting next to the Underground Shoreditch station, the mall is pedestrian-friendly, easy to reach and full of popular stores.
Decameron @ Brazil
You’ll find Decameron in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Marcio Kogan and Mariana Simas designed the retail store that covers just 250 square meters of space. The World Architecture Festival awarded the pair with the world’s best shopping building. Two rows of shipping containers sit on top of one another and are painted in striking exterior colors. With translucent sliding doors, the retail store opens to a brightly lit interior, housing the company’s products, office spaces and showroom. For a bit of relaxation, the pair has created a pebble garden full of comfortable seating to welcome visitors and shoppers alike.
Christchurch @ New Zealand
After an earthquake devastated the city of Christchurch, citizens weren’t sure if their neighborhoods would ever be the same. The community gathered its resources and rebuilt as quickly as possible. What emerged from the rubble was a “reborn” shopping district. Located on Cashel Street, 27 businesses have rebuilt themselves using recycled steel shipping containers.
Containers that were once a symbol of destruction and clean-up are now breathing new life into the city, providing a sense of hope and uniqueness. Cafes, a lingerie shop and a department store count themselves among the many businesses that have been constructed from these containers. No longer a symbol of temporary fixes, the containers are now a symbol of renewal and promise.
Steel shipping containers are considered useless after about 20 years. Once these containers are deemed as such, they are sent to landfills where they take up incredibly valuable space. Innovative companies, from established to entrepreneurial are helping to ensure that these containers are never considered useless, and are using them to breathe new life into their communities.
Consultant Frank Sanders works with businesses to create new uses for recycled or reclaimed storage containers. Whether you’re thinking about storage containers for rent, or purchasing a recycled one for a business project, you’ll find their many uses inspiring.