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Because of their relative ubiquitousness, and the fact that it takes so much energy to melt down 8,000 pounds of steel, these containers are being given second lives.
The use of shipping containers as modular units in the building process is seen as an upcycling of materials.
Intermodal containers are increasingly the focus of businesses looking to create a unique shelter out of a familiar design. An entire industry has sprung up with creative ways to reuse these containers that would otherwise be languishing in shipyards at the end of their useful shipping lives. Many architects have created eye-catching, unique urban designs  with the 20 foot container as their building block of choice.
Not only does it cost less to adapt these units than it does to melt them down for materials, but leaving the units in their original state provides a stronger structure than conventional housing frames.

These modular units are used for deployment to situations world-wide that can benefit from ready-made, pop open, adaptable shelters.
Their modular shape, inherent portability, structural soundness and availability make these containers an intriguing concept to design from and build with. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Their universal appeal comes from the ability to transfer from sea to rail to road without having to take the contents out along the way.
Lengths vary from 20 footers to 56 feet long, with corrugated steel walls and a door at one end.
Twenty footers in particular are in plentiful supply, as shippers have moved on to larger sizes over the years.

Not just limited to housing, containers are being used for office space, retail buildings, museums and even works of art. Shipped just like an intermodal container, these spaces then open up, or expand, to offer support services in the event of natural disasters or other types of emergencies. Even more practical is the use of one or two containers to make reasonably sized homes for places and people around the world who need or prefer a smaller footprint.

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