Offering a wide range of uses, from homes to schools, cargo containers offer an environmentally friendly construction solution. Over the last decade, containers have become a popular choice due to their cost-effectiveness, working well for a wide range of projects. Container conversions are relatively simple and fast compared to brick and mortar construction, with a far lower carbon footprint and plenty of design diversity. Used for residential buildings as well as commercial structures, cargo containers can be used in many different ways. In this guide, we take a look at the rise of containers in construction and share some examples of how they can be used.

The Rise of Cargo Containers in Construction

Cargo containers began to gain popularity in construction from the early 2000s, as the need for eco-friendly construction options began to grow. Also known as cargotecture, the use of containers in architecture has continued to rise on a global scale. Today, containers are used across a wide range of industries, offering numerous benefits including strength, availability and affordability. The shape of containers also makes them diverse in their application, with diverse opportunities for design. The modular nature of containers allows them to be layered in a way that is space-effective, working well even in highly dense areas with limited space. Some examples of container construction include the following projects:

27 Boxes Shopping Centre, Johannesburg

Image: 27 Boxes

Situated in Melville, 27 Boxes Shopping Centre is a 2400m2 shopping centre comprised entirely of shipping containers. This unique mall houses 78 shops, with 200 underground parking bays. The mall was designed and developed by Citiq. Retail shops within the mall are small, offering affordable space for retailers. A mixture of food, art, furniture, and design stores can be found in the centre along with a bakery and restaurant.

Vissershok Primary School, Cape Town

Within the Durbanville vine valley lies the rural school of Vissershok. This school is attended by the children of the nearby Du Noon township as well as farmworkers within the wine region. A 12m container was recycled to create a fully independent classroom for 25 learners within the Grade R class. Spanning 180m2, this unique learning centre designed by Tsai Design Studio provides a compact solution that helps to uplift the local community.

Glenwood Prep, Durban

Image: ParaGone

ParaGone assisted with a cargo container conversion for Glenwood Prep in Durban. This one-of-a-kind structure was fitted with aluminium doors and windows. Designed by Bloc Architects, Prep Room comprises a cafe and children’s play area, with a barber on the first floor. The structure lies adjacent to the school, offering a place for parents and learners to relax and watch sporting events taking place on the field next door.


Thanks to the affordability, flexibility, and space efficiency of shipping containers, there is no doubt that these structures will continue to offer an excellent solution for a variety of construction projects. Investing in sturdy aluminium windows and doors is essential to ensure that your container can be enjoyed to optimal use. To learn more about aluminium doors and windows, contact ParaGone today.