Shipping Container Conversions Start Scooping Up Awards

We’ve long been championing the exciting and innovative shipping container conversions which see storage containers transformed, and from homes to farming spaces, it seems like almost every week somebody comes up with a new spin on the idea. Now we’re starting to see these conversions scoop up the architectural awards that they so clearly deserve.

Grillagh Water House

Built using four 45ft shipping containers, Grillagh Water House comes straight from the mind of Londonderry architect Patrick Bradley. The unusual design already got some recognition when it was featured on Grand Designs last September, however now it has received an official stamp of approval in the form of a prestigious award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The awards handed out by RIBA are some of the most coveted in the architecture world, and we’re really delighted to see Bradley’s hard work on his shipping container conversion has brought him such success!

Grillagh Water House wasn’t initially designed to incorporate shipping containers at all, however with a limited budget Bradley was on the lookout for something that would prove affordable without forcing him to compromise on the design that he wanted. His concept was to design a building that would function as a house, but look more like a sculpture – blending perfectly with the farming environment that it’s situated in. RIBA’s decision to honour him with this award certainly shows that it paid off.


@TheRec is a cafe at the Stowmarket Town recreation ground designed to help foster interaction within the community, and – you guessed it – it’s made out of two converted lorry containers. The repurposed shipping containers are surprisingly spacious, while a bright coat of paint gives it the modern and vibrant appeal that the designers were looking for.

Their award comes from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, an organisation set up to ensure high standards in the development and management of land. @TheRec took the regeneration award for the East of England, and the judges added that they were impressed with how ‘the innovative and eye-catching use of containers to create a new café and meeting space, together with toilet facilities, has created a major change in the character and use of this recreation area’.

EThekwini Municipality


So far we’ve looked at some individual shipping container buildings, and while these are certainly impressive feats of architecture in their own right, eThekwini’s project goes even further – both in terms of scale and purpose. They have converted a series of shipping containers into communal ablution blocks, fitting them with toilets, showers and wash basins to create much-needed provisions for clean water and personal hygiene within their community.

This has seen them become the proud winners of African Utility Week Industry’s Municipality of the Year award – a prize which notes not just the innovation of their development, but also the new jobs that it has created and the real improvement that it will make in the lives of many. James Nxumalo, the eThekwini mayor, stated that the project was part of their ongoing commitment to ‘change for the betterment of our environment and improved quality of life for our citizens’.

We’re certainly not surprised to see these awards start rolling in, as followers of the blog will know that we’ve been taking a keen interest in shipping container conversions for a long time now! It just goes to show how incredibly versatile the humble shipping container can be. Whatever you want to do with your shipping container – from using it to make your mark in architecture, to creating site accommodation in London – we’ll be happy to fulfill your needs. Get in touch with our friendly team at 0208 459 6972, and let us know what you need from us!

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