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Upcycling shipping containers

Sustainable event space designs based on upcycling shipping containers is a trend hitting the events world.

Green, imaginative, rousing and with ‘big impact’ appeal, here at EMS we can see why transforming an industrial, rudimentary space into an affordable and accessible event location is appealing.

Starbucks Retailer

A great example is Starbucks and its Reclamation Drive-Thru in Washington, there’s also a great story behind it. Shipping containers source the company’s coffees and teas from around the world, yet many are scrapped after a couple of decades. The Reclamation Drive-Thru was intended to re-use items used in the supply chain, and the result is a 450 sqft drive-thru and store made from four shipping containers – enabling a pop-up style coffee shop to squeeze into a space that a normal shop design would not fit into.

Cosmetics brand tour

While this showcases a creative and sustainable design, it also highlights some of the challenges and restrictions that working with this format can present, mainly its cumbersome nature. Whilst it can offer a more cost effective solution for a static or pop-up event, the cost can increase dramatically when toured to multiple locations.

There’s no doubt, however, that it can be done – by adding wheels. A notable execution is that for the Benefit cosmetics TAR-Liner training tour, which saw a shipping container transformed into a mobile boutique to train staff working at Benefit counters across major cities by mounting the structure onto a truck base.

Shipping containers work in the B2B world too, and we have worked with Parker Hannifin on a campaign as part of its ongoing Instrumentation Tour with us. For trade show Offshore Europe, a unique hospitality solution was shipped in to create high impact.

A unique visitor experience was created by using the Parker-branded exhibition trailer to showcase its latest products, which also provided access to a private VIP hospitality area, executed inside two 40ft shipping containers. A ‘link’ walkway enabled visitors to enjoy a seamless, first-hand experience of Parker’s industry-leading range of instrumentation for the oil and gas industry. The highly effective hospitality environment provided an exclusive space to have one-to-one conversations and enjoy networking opportunities with industry experts.

Parker Innovation Lounge

Shipping containers are designed to be relatively easy to install but being large and heavy they rely on a crane to do this. Whilst they work for some projects, a roadshow truck can often be a more effective option if the aim of the campaign is to travel.

Trucks have a similar appeal to a shipping container in that they offer a blank canvas with an endless number of options for use of space, innovation and new technology. They are also huge, so they can generate the same impact too.

The additional benefit of course is that they are on wheels, and therefore easy to move around and set up, so businesses can benefit from going mobile, which creates a real return on investment and unique opportunity to enter new territory.

If you are looking to create an impactful and engaging event, please get in touch and we’d be happy to talk through all of the options with you.



About the author

Nic Whelan

Nic Whelan

For more than 15 years, Nic has helped some of the world’s biggest brands deliver international roadshow tours. He combines experience and insight with a strong commercial understanding, ensuring you enjoy a successful tour that achieves all your objectives.
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