Just when we think that we are making the most unique uses of some of the most mundane products we are reminded by history that we are not alone in our efforts to repurpose materials, even very large containers. Storage containers are a perfect example of the repurposing that goes on by individuals who are looking for unique solutions to storage, living accommodations, and even office and reception locations. Although we may think that today’s creative use of shipping containers is fairly unique, we are not the first generation to make unique use of these structures. In fact, as far back as the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the first appearance of a unique amusement ride made use of railroad cars that closely resembled today’s storage containers.
The Ferris wheel that we all are so familiar with today is actually a generic term that was originally named for the engineer and inventor who designed the major attraction for the event, George Washington Gale Ferris. In Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, a book that chronicles the entire event, as well as the mysterious disappearance and later discovered murders of several single female visitors, the author details a very unique use of what we would think of as a storage container.
With the ability to hold as many as 40 to 60 people, Larson basically describes these passenger containers as large retrofitted railroad cars. With the use of windows inserted throughout much of the storage container, passengers were seated on individual chairs that allowed passengers to swivel in any desired direction. The term Ferris wheel is now used for all similar amusement rides, but it was originally structure that was built for the 1893 event.
Modern Day Uses of Industrial Shipping Containers Expand to a Variety of Purposes
Although the history of the use of shipping containers for a variety of purposes dates back in to the late 1890s, many Americans are only more recently familiar with these structures as they have showed up as tiny homes in a current housing trend. The water proof nature of these containers lends itself very well to making themselves useful in the latest trend of minimalists across the country.
Long before these repurposed shipping containers found a use in the small home sector, they were already being used as shipping container office spaces. Both as temporary and permanent structures, these shipping container offices allow construction companies to have an onsite office that can simply be relocated when its purpose has ended. Shipping container offices are also used as rental locations for new apartment complexes and membership recruiting offices at the site of large fitness centers before indoor space is available.
From rock quarries to interstate roadway construction locations, shipping container offices provide a secure space that can be easily heated and cooled as needed. Easy to transport when the container is no longer needed, these shipping containers are growing in popularity and purpose. Consider these statistics about storage container use in America:
- Some sites estimate that building with containers can lead to a cost savings of as much as 40% when those costs are compared to traditional construction methods.
- The majority of containers in use today are truly eco-green structures because they are made from 85% recycled steel and fully recyclable if demolished. Their continued reuse saves new building materials.
- Reusing even one single 40 foot container upcycles approximately 3500kg of steel and saves about 8000 kWh that would be required to melt it down.
- Produced in 20% of the time and at 50% of the cost of site-built homes, manufactured housing assembled in a factory controlled environment uses fewer materials and generates as much as 35% to 40% less waste than comparable units built on site.
- Shipping containers can withstand up to 100 mile per hour winds when rooted on a foundation or 175 mile per hour winds when anchored with pylons. Whether they are used as single units or multiple connected units, this resistance to wind makes container homes extremely solid in both hurricanes and tornadoes.
- With the ability to easily last 20 years, shipping containers can last an entire lifetime provided they are taken care of with regular paint and maintenance.