Note: Though COVID-19 has stalled a lot of travel plans, we hope our stories can offer inspiration for your future adventures—and a bit of hope.
Over the past decade, shipping container architecture has gained increasing momentum around the world, from the streets of Tokyo to the Tasmanian wilderness. The foundation of this architectural movement is the concept of adaptive reuse, which focuses on repurposing old spaces into new types of accommodations such as hotels, restaurants, public pavilions, and even personal homes. Aside from its interesting aesthetic, the practice of transforming out-of-use shipping containers for new uses is also inherently sustainable.
In 2010, Berlin-based international publishing house Gestalten put out Container Atlas: A Practical Guide to Container Architecture, a comprehensive book that chronicles some of the world’s most impressive shipping container projects (coedited by German architect Han Slawik). Now, the beautifully constructed Container Atlas is back for a second edition that builds on its predecessor—pun intended—to chart how the architectural movement has since evolved.
The new, 304-page edition (available April 21) explores ongoing innovations in shipping container architecture over the past 10 years, showcasing an extensive array of photographs, diagrams, and descriptions for each unique shipping container site. Some of the featured locations are private residences, off-the-grid cabins, and office spaces, but others are places that travelers can readily visit.
One, for example, is Schmatz Beer Stand (pictured above), a Tokyo bar and restaurant inspired by classic German beer halls, with multiple locations across the Japanese capital. The popular eatery serves classic German beers and treats such as sausages and schnitzels, as well as some Japanese dishes with a twist, like Garlic Cheese Edamame. Schmatz’s Tokyo Dome City location, which sits near the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium, is housed in two shipping containers that have been refurbished with timber interiors, copper accents, and neon signs depicting “sizzling” hot dogs.
Another is the mobile pizza truck from San Francisco’s Del Popolo pizzeria, which sits semi-permanently in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. The 20-foot transatlantic shipping container is mounted to the bed of a large freight truck and equipped with an Italian-made wood-fired brick oven. Here, chefs turn out Neapolitan-style pizzas to pedestrians from a glass-enclosed kitchen. (The food truck also offers catering for private parties and events.)
Within the updated edition of Container Atlas, sites like Devil’s Corner in Apslawn, Tasmania (a rural area roughly two hours by car from Hobart, the capital of the Australian island state) also make an appearance. The shipping container winery is built from anthracite (coal) and timber freight containers; it features a “Cellar Door” area where visitors can taste regional pinot noirs and fresh seafood and a lookout platform that offers views of the surrounding vineyard and Hazards mountain range.
Flipping through the glossy pages of this artful architecture book is one way you can mentally transport yourself beyond your home right now. So whether you’re an architecture lover or you just really miss traveling, consider adding Container Atlas to your reading list.
Buy it: $69, amazon.com
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