Shipping Containers As Art

The very practical nature of construction and shipping containers lends itself well to affordable architecture. The durable and versatile intermodal containers make great building blocks for structures, both permanent and temporary. However, the containers have also been widely used to create incredible pieces of artwork, providing a blank canvas of almost any size in any location.

North West Walls graffiti art, Belgium

In 2015, the North West Walls program featured art from six international street artists. Their individual styles were captured on colossal stacks of industrial shipping containers, with each artist painting the towering boxes in colourful and richly-detailed illustrations.

Magee’s project for north west walls towers over visitors. Image source

The artists fintan magee, smug, pixel pancho, nychos, and lula goce created a series of portraits and designs, reinterpreting the containers as architectural surfaces for artistry and imagination.

American artist Gamma Gallery created “the underwater man”. Image source

The artwork stood in place during the annual music festival Rock Werchter and throughout the year as a place of refuge and retreat.

Austrian artist Nychos’ completed art installation for the North West Walls project in Belgium. Image source

Each of the pieces is distinctive, and the highly imaginative and 3-dimensional images come to life on the large-scale canvases provided by the construction containers. It provided the public with a rare opportunity to experience a diverse range of art in a single outdoor setting.

IOU Structure, Kansas City

The IOU structure in Kansas City, USA, artist and Arkansas State University teacher John Salvest arranged over 100 red, white, and blue shipping containers on a piece of property facing the Federal Reserve Bank. Those working in the reserve that look out their windows are then glaringly reminded of the United States’ national debt, and its impact on its people.

The IOU structure proudly chants USA to onlookers. Image source

The building-facing side spells out the letters “IOU” while the outward-facing side spells out “USA”. This 7 storey installation is one of the first of its kind, using art and architecture as a method of protest and civil disobedience.

The large-scale structure was used to support the Occupy Wall street movement. Image source

The project received funding by the non-profit organisation, Grand Arts, in what was one of the group’s largest ventures to date. The act of renting over 1000 containers, installing them on the site with a large crane, and then ensuring around-the-clock security was no small undertaking, and many residents feel that the project was a waste of money. However others considered the protest to be a valid continuation of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Containbow, Fremantle, Western Australia

Marcus Canning ‘s ‘Rainbow’ was installed between the bridges at Beach Reserve, overlooking the Fremantle Port in Western Australia. Commissioned by the City of Fremantle Public Art Collection, Canning’s Rainbow or #containbow, was designed to be an instant icon, garnering widespread interest from around the world.

The Rainbow Project in Fremantle features colourful shipping containers arranged as a rainbow. Image source

 The monumental structure was constructed from nine customised and coloured shipping containers, arranged to form a giant rainbow. The project was not a traditional public art installation, with the act being carefully choreographed over 12 hours, becoming a spectacle in itself.

The nine colourful containers in Containbow took 12 hours to install. Image source

Canning’s Containbow design was selected by a jury from 28 submissions in the City’s open ideas competition. The jury for this major commission was made up of public art professional, historians, and art experts from the City of Fremantle Public Art Advisory Group.

The Construction Container Facelift architecture competition

Bee Breeders architecture competition organisers is working in partnership with VUDIS modular unit manufacturer for the Construction Container Facelift competition. It is an opportunity for participants to present creative solutions to the problem these containers represent in city development. Entrants are challenged with turning a negative situation into a positive one, by making the containers as much a benefit to the city visually as they are functionally.

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