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Since they made the first transatlantic crossing in the mid-20th century, shipping containers have transformed the history of international transport and trade.

These steel structures were designed to carry over 30 tonnes (heavy loads) for long periods of time and to withstand the harsh environmental conditions they were subjected to on their sea voyages.

Over time, containers evolved to adapt to the safety and functional conditions required for each cargo.  Hence the different types of containers that can be seen today in colourful blocks in ports around the world.

It is precisely their robust and modular nature that has revealed the enormous potential of shipping containers as construction elements, revolutionising the construction sector. 

Cargotecture, a modular shipping container construction technique

Shipping container construction is not new. In the late 1980s, the American architect Phillip C. Clark introduced the term cargotecture (or container architecture) to refer to the modular construction technique using shipping containers.

However, it is only in the last few decades that residential construction with shipping containers has gained momentum.  This is due to the search for new, more sustainable forms of building, extending to other sectors such as commercial and industrial.

Cargotecture applies the industrial quality control of any manufacture to architectural construction, providing more control and safety at all stages.

Examples of shipping container constructions

A standard 40’HC container is 12.03 metres long, 2.35 metres wide and 2.69 metres high (interior and usable dimensions), giving a usable surface area of almost 30 m2. These dimensions can be multiplied by adding two or more containers, open or compartmentalised rooms, allowing various combinations in height or their future extension.

In this way, we obtain the most diverse and surprising construction solutions. From a container transformed into a swimming pool, to a single-family home, offices or warehouses from two or more containers, or creations as innovative as the football stadium in Qatar that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with no less than 974 containers, which will be dismantled and reused elsewhere once the tournament is over.

Advantages of building with shipping containers

The speed of execution of the work, together with their portability, are some of the reasons for the boom in container construction. They are not only ideal for designing habitable spaces, but are also useful for mobile or temporary installations, such as catering premises, pop-up stores or stands at trade fairs and events.

In short, shipping containers represent a quality alternative to brick construction because of their many advantages:

• Speed of execution of work

• Modularity.

• Sustainable spaces. 

• Dry construction, therefore more environmentally friendly.

• Portability and ease of transport.

• Customisation

.• Lower costs.

In addition to selling standard containers, Bullbox is developing tailor-made projects by manufacturing or modifying maritime containers for residential, commercial or industrial use.

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