Shipping container architecture is a form of architecture using steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as structural elements. It is also referred to as cargotecture .
Due to their shape and material, shipping containers can be easily modified to fit many purposes.
Shipping containers are designed to be stacked in high columns, carrying heavy loads. They are also designed to resist harsh environments, such as on ocean-going vessels or sprayed with road salt while transported on roads. Due to their high strength, shipping containers are usually the last to fall in extreme weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
All shipping containers are the same width and most have two standard height and length measurements and as such they provide modular elements that can be combined into larger structures. This simplifies design, planning and transport. As they are already designed to interlock for ease of mobility during transportation, structural construction is completed by simply emplacing them. Due to the containers' modular design, additional construction is as easy as stacking more containers. They can be stacked up to 12 units high when empty.
A 40 ft shipping container weights over 3,500 kg. When up-cycling shipping containers, thousands of kilograms of steel are saved. In addition when building with containers, the amount of traditional building materials needed (i.e. bricks and cement) are reduced.