shipping container home village

London’s Intermodal Container Village


Architects, civil engineers, urban planners, and even interior decorators have been at work in transforming shipping containers into a wide range of structures for the past 20 years. While these shipping container homes, admittedly, are being constructed primarily for economic necessity, most of them have managed to become aesthetic representations of the people who own them.

Trinity Buoy, London – A Solution to Skyrocketing House/Office Prices

container city

Some people live on boats so why not in shipping containers? With prices of homes rising steadily on the upward trend, people are considering other options instead of compromising their hard-earned cash just to get a step on the current property ladder. For the first-time purchaser in the U.K., the average price for a house by 2020 would reach almost a quarter of one million pounds.

For those who want to reside in London with budgets that do not fit the city’s skyrocketing real estate prices, the Container City at the Trinity Buoy Wharf is the perfect solution. Its completion in 2002 added another attraction to the wharf area other than London’s only lighthouse, albeit no longer functional, and shows no sign of a let-up in eager buyers.

These apartment-type containers cost from £600 to £1000 monthly in rental, a comparatively low price to pay to live in London’s central district. All these containers, made from surplus shipping container vans, have been designed to be sustainable using an “Urban Space Management” trademark. This involves utilising the forty-foot standard equivalent of shipping container units to create flexible, comfortable accommodations.


How to Create Prosperity and Wealth


While Urban Space Management’s plans to construct more residential structures from containers, houses such as these have diversified into classrooms, retail and office spaces, and youth centres. This development at the London Docklands has made the Trinity Buoy Wharf a haven for those who desire flexibility, scale, and sustainability in their habitats.


The Trinity Buoy Wharf has work studios as well as work and live lofts that are stacked one on top of the other that are component pieces instead of the conventional units. Urban Space Management founder Eric Reynolds believes that creating prosperity and wealth in any place must start by filling it with people who are, economically, “poor” but equally “artistic.”

interior Container_City


Where Artists Go, People Follow

Container City’s current “artistic” residents include journalist-broadcaster Caroline Barker, Russell Grant of “Strictly Come Dancing,” makeup artist Becky McGahern, and others who work on creative processes such as sculptors, textile designers, painters, and electronic imaging experimentalists, to name a few. Reynolds believes that where artistic people go, others will soon follow.


Trinity Buoy Wharf now has affordable studios and workshops that are placed cozily next to one another, the complete solution to the perpetual demons known as isolation and poverty — that stalk artists everywhere. This isn’t surprising when one discovers that Reynolds transformed the erstwhile derelict Camden Town, then a canal zone that was not only run down and dirty but dangerous, into an artistic enclave in 1974.


A “Far-Sighted Decision” for Creative Purposes

According to Reynolds, Container City homes and work spaces cost only £5 for one square foot yearly, meaning some tenants pay merely £40 weekly. You won’t find corporate bulldozers at Trinity Buoy Wharf because their absence is the “far-sighted decision” of the former LDDC (London Docklands Development Commission) to sell the site to Reynolds for £1 if Reynolds will use it for creative purposes.


Instead of being flogged with commercial and residential residences for urban professionals such as bankers, lawyers, accountants, and other white collar workers. According to Reynolds, the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust is Urban Space Management’s “landlord,” with a long-term lease of 120 years. Reynolds’ company pays the Trust with a fixed percentage of 25% from whatever Urban Space Management makes annually.

Growing at One’s Own Pace

This arrangement, Reynolds explained, enables Urban Space Management to grow at their own pace instead of having them keep up with commercial land value. Still according to Reynolds, one can buy redundant shipping containers for as low as £600 each, insulate them, cut out holes for windows, and stack them one on top of another. Even with the addition of power and plumbing you can still charge £30 per square foot.


If one uses conventional methods in putting up an industrial building in its simplest structure, Reynolds said, the cost could start at £75 and rise from £120 to £130 if difficult conditions are encountered during construction. For developers to obtain a substantial return on their investment in a considerable period of time, they would have to charge more than £50 for each square foot yearly.


Amazingly Creative

Reynolds has a long waiting list of individuals who are, in his words, “desperate” to reside and do creative work in one of its shipping container home and studio. Urban Space Management is currently constructing Container City 2, proof of the success of its predecessor. The second Container City, still based on shipping container plans, will have five floors with 30 units.


Thirty-three year old video artist Alex Sandover and his two terriers occupy one of the top floor’s studios, one of 55 artists who are currently renting other studio units. The shipping container homes at Container City are not interspersed with feng shui water fountains, landscaping, and other residential development amenities. But, for all intents and purposes, this Trinity Buoy Wharf community looks and feels amazingly creative.

If you’d like to see some ideas on your own smaller scale version of this – check out these plans.



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