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We see them almost everywhere – on the backs of trucks or stacked in storage yards, but shipping containers have become more than just a vessel to transport and store; they have become company office spaces, retail outlets, ablutions, people’s homes, and even a World Cup Football Stadium! 

The FIFA World Cup 2022 kicked off with a first in history – the host team, Qatar was beaten two-nil by Ecuador. A World Cup host country has never before lost the opening game. This, however, is not the only first in history for this tournament. 

One of the eight stadiums being used to host the 32 teams was created using 974 recycled shipping containers and appropriately named, Stadium 974

Fenwick Iribarren Architects designed the 40,000-seater stadium in a series of blocks comprising modified shipping containers. These will be purpose-modified to perform as concessions, stairs, and bathrooms. The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will go down in history as the first demountable, movable, and reusable sports stadium in the world. 

From the magnitude of a World Cup stadium, living in a shipping container has become a global trend – a more affordable way to own a home. Is container housing going to reach new heights in South Africa? Is it the answer to our housing crisis?

The temporary venue in Ras Abu Aboud, Doha, Qatar opened in November 2021 and will host matches during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, after which it will be dismantled. It is the first temporary venue in FIFA World Cup history.

Repurposed shipping containers used to construct Stadium 974, a football venue for the World Cup in Qatar.

Converted containers can also be designed with the same amount of comfort as one would find in a traditional property. 

According to Tony Clarke, managing director of Rawson Property Group, shipping containers offer an interesting alternative to traditional construction techniques. They are compatible with off-grid solutions like solar power, solar lighting, and rainwater harvesting systems which makes them ideal for rural facilities like clinics and schools

The fact that a container unit (house, clinic, office, shop) is mobile and largely (approximately 90%) built off-site, avoids the issue of high transportation costs for construction crews and equipment. They are cheaper than an equivalent brick-and-mortar property and also dramatically faster to construct. Container homes can also be sturdier than cheap brick-and-mortar construction and could last longer than their traditional counterparts. 

A report by Allied Market Research reveals that the global container home market size is expected to reach R1.2bn by 2025 as opposed to R690m in 2017. This represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 6.5% from 2018 to 2025. 

According to an estimated 20% of urban South African households reside in informal settlements, while the housing shortage is estimated at approximately 3.7 million and rising by around 178 000 annually.

Trend analyst, Belinda Silbert, says there is a niche to be filled in the affordable housing market and is confident that mobile-park homes, with varying degrees of luxury and necessity, will fit the bill. “I believe that they will offer excellent investment potential,’’ she says. 

The environmental impact of converted container homes is also positive as container houses can be built using idle containers as well as used or scrap containers, in turn conserving metal resources. With the use of shipping containers, builders can construct sustainable and affordable, high-quality homes. Not to mention that these compact homes can be moved from one place to another or stacked on top of each other to create a duplex. 

To provide examples, Engineering News filed a report on the Brixton Umhlanga Junction Extension student apartment scheme. The striking block of 75 single student pads went up in an incredibly short two months based on a series of single container modules.

Various materials, cladding, and colours combine to achieve a modern and appealing look. A communal kitchen and dining area, recreation room, lounge, and laundry complete chic home-from-home accommodation for modern students.

Not to be outdone, Drivelines Studios launched a new urban development in Johannesburg’s Maboneng precinct mixed-space environment, comprising upcycled used containers stacked 7-high. The attractive apartments with city views sold as ‘modular homes’ priced from R120,000 upwards and attract rentals of R4,500 a month.

Almar Container Sales and Rental, a supplier to Container Conversions (Pty)Ltd, has been providing containers to the transport, logistics, retail, and general storage industries in South Africa, the Middle East, and East Africa since 1988. 

Almar’s aim is to simplify life for its customers by passionately committing to helping them overcome their challenges. They do this best by working together as a team and creating strong relationships, as they have done with Container Conversions. 

New to South Africa are AllShelter dome shelters which extend the storage capacity of containers

Container Conversions (Pty) Ltd is an industry leader in the provision of instant temporary site accommodation and storage to the rental and sales markets in Southern Africa. The diverse rental fleet, consisting of both containers and park homes, meet the varying needs of a wide range of customers through availability, price, quality, and customer service. An extensive range of furniture provides a one-stop shop for the needs of all our customers.

Container Conversions recently introduced container-mounted dome shelters to protect your assets. These functional shelters, manufactured by Allshelter, are the solution for storage and protection of goods on mines, civil construction sites, farms, aviation, and transport facilities.

Allshelter container-mounted shelters consist of heavy-duty polyethylene fabric, tensioned over a curved steel framework creating a permanent, yet relocatable, shelter suitable for most applications across mining, construction, industry, waste management, and aviation. A 10-year warranty offers peace of mind and the option to either purchase or rent allows options and flexibility.

For more information, please contact our Durban office at 031 769 1100 or email or our Johannesburg at 011 975 3800 or email

New to South Africa are AllShelter dome shelters which extend the storage capacity of containers