Cargotecture: A Creative and Greener Solution for Building Office Spaces

Jim Morris
Updated on
Jim Morris

Jim Morris

Jim Morris loves to travel and visit a lot of architecture sites worldwide. He shares lots of information and is always looking forward to the next article on interior design, architecture and landscaping.
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The U.S. remains one of the largest importers of shipping containers, even though the global pandemic has affected worldwide trade. According to a survey by National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, in January 2020, the number of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) imported was 1.82 million. Although this number took a hit since February 2020 due to the pandemic, it was forecasted to be at 1.73 million in October 2020.

These staggering statistics prove that there are a large number of shipping containers that reach the ports of the U.S. Sometimes, it is economically not viable to send them back to the country of origin; hence, repurposing them makes complete sense. Smelting them, of course, results in the consumption of energy and creation of non-degradable waste.

This is where Cargotecture comes into the picture - a sustainable solution for building fully-functioning offices or living spaces with cargo containers or ISO-certified shipping containers, which results in lesser carbon footprints. Although this trend is yet to become globally popular, it is slowly gaining traction, thanks to an increased number of people becoming conscious of eco-friendly workspace alternatives.

If you're looking for developing an office space that will not only save dollars but also contribute to saving our planet, it's time to think creative.

Here's why the cargotecture trend is gaining popularity for the right reasons.

Why shipping containers make for great sustainable office spaces

Sustainable solution by reusing shipping containers

Reusing shipping containers can prove to be an economically and environmentally sustainable option. Cargotecture provides a unique opportunity to upcycle these idle shipping containers and put them to use to build inexpensive, offbeat office spaces that take lesser time for completion.

Ability to construct offsite

Shipping containers allow you to adopt modular construction. You can repurpose these containers offsite, modifying them as per end use and other customizations as needed. As these can be constructed offsite, in a controlled environment and a factory-like setting, it is much easier to monitor quality.

In short, cargotecture offers you benefits similar to modular construction. These containers can easily be transported to the construction site and assembled as per requirements.

Reduced onsite work

As only assembly work is carried onsite, it eliminates noise and results in minimal disruption of other work. Additionally, this reduces the frequency of accidents and the need to bring construction vehicles and heavy equipment on site, resulting in lesser noise and air pollution.

Even if you're building a temporary office or an extension, shipping containers allow you to make optimal use of resources without affecting your daily lives.

Explore creative options with upcycled cargo containers

A cargo container as an office space may sound boring, but it can be upcycled to give an industrial feel with furnishings that resemble materials like wood that are typically used in regular construction. Today, these forms of structures are used across a wide range of industries, including retail, health & pharma, construction, agriculture, and education industries.

Here’s how you can redefine the container with amenities and other features to completely revamp the look.


One of the easiest ways to revamp is to simply paint the container to blend with the surroundings. In fact, it is possible to almost completely conceal and make it look like a brick-and-mortar construction.

However, the natural colours of shipping containers are also in vogue these days in the real-estate sector. Bold designs and colours are being embraced by modern interior designers. They are no longer touted as simply low-budget homes and many cities such as Detroit and Nashville are adopting shipping container architecture.

Window modification and lighting

Window modification for ample ventilation and lighting can make a huge difference in the final results. Shipping containers can be stacked together in multiple ways and assembled to create buildings or structures of varying lengths and heights, allowing a lot of room to create window and door designs of your choice.

You can modify the container either through skylights or windows, depending on your preferences for the final look of the office.

HVAC system integration

To make the office space suitable for the weather, you'll need to determine an appropriate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. A climate-control mechanism with appropriate air filters will ensure the safety & well-being of your employees, especially, during the times of the pandemic when hygiene has become a priority.

Based on your requirements, you can choose from various options such as window AC, wall mount, louver, or rooftop turbine vents. Insulation will be necessary to make the office energy-efficient and avoid excessive moisture.

Consider this part crucial, as a gorgeous office will hold no value if it is not made comfortable and secure for your employees.

Electricity and plumbing

It is possible to provide amenities similar to a traditional brick office in a container office, with suitable plumbing and electrical points. Ensure that all safety parameters for gas and other installations are met.

Choose electric points based on your team’s seating arrangement and other related aspects. 

How upcycled shipping containers can prove to be an economically viable option

The countless benefits of using portable shipping containers show why you should consider investing in them. If the budget is a constraint, you can opt for a used container, which can be further refurbished as per your requirements.

For instance, a startup that has newly rolled out products or services in the market and looking for office space without paying a lot of rent can consider using a modified container for office space. Before contacting your shipping container dealer, make sure that you have the building permits in place and take local laws into consideration.

Go through the portfolio of containers and physically inspect them before you take the plunge. Typically, one-trip containers are costlier but require less work on repairing and removal of rust. Your designer can suggest ideas to change the look of the container completely.

Usage of shipping containers in offsite construction allows for a higher degree of control on quality through standardization. Sometimes, quick customizations to a shipping container can be your temporary office, saving valuable time and other resources. Additionally, extreme weather often stalls onsite construction work and you'll have one reason less to worry about the delay in constructing your office.

Change is inevitable, and recent natural calamities have given us enough cues to look for sustainable options that are easier on our planet. Shipping containers can help you set up office space at any location – and move it when needed. Don’t miss the chance to make your workspace innovative and green, with expenses under budget.

Jim Morris

About the author

Jim Morris

Jim Morris loves to travel and visit a lot of architecture sites worldwide. He shares lots of information and is always looking forward to the next article on interior design, architecture and landscaping.
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