Shipping Containers Go Mainstream As Retail Industry Jump On Board


Buildings made from shipping containers have always held a strong curiosity for the urban development industry. In recent times the curiosity factor has been replaced by fully-fledged legitimacy as container conversions earn mainstream acceptance.

The combination of low cost, rigid construction and endless flexibility has always given the container a high level of potential. But it is only now that potential has begun to be realised, particularly in the retail and events industries.

The humble shipping container has quickly emerged as the primary solution for the retail industry where the rapid rise of the online consumer is prompting a major rethink about the in-store experience.

The recent opening of Westside Acton Park in the ACT is a perfect example of the potential for the shipping container.

Made primarily from shipping containers and a metal piping exoskeleton, the temporary pop-up park aims to revitalise Canberra’s West Basin and turn it into a vibrant market square for locals complete with shops, bars and food outlets.

The project was delivered by the Stomping Grounds Collective on behalf of the ACT government and opened in March.

"A pop-up village is a combination of shipping containers and scaffolding elements used to create a vertical village," Stomping Grounds Collective spokesman Terry Shaw said.

"Pop-ups are a bit of a global movement at the moment. International examples include Boxpark in Shoreditch, London, and Christchurch is using them to reactivate spaces following the earthquakes.

Just like the traditional European town square, Westside was developed as a place where Canberrans can discuss life, work and politics, enjoy a concert or major sporting event, or simply enjoy a quiet Sunday brunch.

The temporary nature of the project and desire to create a contemporary feel made the shipping container the ideal building block for the project.

Shipping container manufacturers have been a driving force behind their use and are constantly looking at new ways to give old containers a new life, or new containers a new purpose.

Brisbane-based Gateway Containers has built an entire business on finding new uses for containers, particularly in the retail industry.

The company believes the shipping container has become mainstream for five reasons:
1.     Price – Shipping containers are affordable compared to other building materials, storage and display options.

2.     Sustainable – Shipping containers recycle used materials, and utilising them is good for the environment.

3.     Flexible – Shipping containers can easily be cut, modified or fitted out for whatever retail you need.

4.     Movable – Need a temporary retail environment, or likely to move in the future? A shipping container can be moved easily with a standard truck.

5.     Scalable – Shipping container fit outs can grow with your business needs, and can be stacked and joined to create a larger business environment.

Royal Wolf is another company created to satisfy demand for used containers.

The company used a container to transform the entrance of a retail store in the Westfield Garden City shopping centre in Brisbane.

Working with Leda Shop Fitting, Royal Wolf modified a minicube shipping container to form part of an industrial inspired shop front for Rockwear’s new store.

Because the entry point needed to be clear for customers to walk through during opening hours and easily secured at night, the modifications team had to create doors that were not only functional, but worked with the overall look of the shop.

While using containers as a practical and attractive feature in a store, they can also be the entire store.

The Royal Wolf “Event Kiosk’ has been specifically designed for event organisers to bring an extra dimension to the sales and customer service experience.

Available in a 10 and 20 foot size range, the event kiosk offers flexibility for seasonal businesses, sporting and corporate events, experiential activations, festivals, trade fairs and more.

Royal Wolf CEO Robert Allan said this latest container innovation provided the ideal solution for the retail and events industries.

“The event kiosk is proving immensely popular as they offer a practical and cost-effective turnkey solution for a multitude of uses,” he said.

“From retail stands to pop-up bars or cafes at festivals, sporting events, food and wine expos, product launches and exhibitions, as well as ticketing and even TV production support facilities, the possibilities are endless.

Standard features for both sizes include full length servery, overhead awning, power, lighting, air conditioning, folding bench/desk, sliding window with security mesh, full size secure door access, commercial vinyl flooring and the ability for each unit to be painted to accommodate corporate signage.

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