The adaptive reuse of shipping containers for building purposes has been around for a little while now, but it's still so impressive to see the kind of spatial and material variation these basic building blocks can create.
They are ready-made enclosures that can be easily and quickly assembled and reconfigured. I appreciate how they acknowledge temporality: implicit in their no-nonsense construction, and the light ways they touch the ground, is the idea that the site can and will be cleared someday, and something else will take their place. In this way, they interact rather respectfully with context (providing an alternative version of "contextualism" through material and form to so much of what gets built nowadays). Below, an upcoming project in NYC inserts 70 shipping containers into a narrow site on Lafayette Street in Noho, creating 15 housing units with ground-floor retail. The long facade is mostly transparent, which belies the notion that these containers necessarily create spaces that are dark and enclosed. Check out how the assemblage integrates with the neighborhood:
Also, take a look at Urban Space Management's Container City projects in London and elsewhere in the UK (the images above are just a few of theirs). As one of the designers explains, since the containers are initially manufactured to such precise specifications, they only vary from each other in terms of a couple millimeters. Thus they are comparatively much simpler to assemble and deal with than traditional building materials.
The Freitag (bags and accessories made from recycled truck tarpaulins) flagship store in Zurich is also a container creation. The Swiss company's recycling ethos is expressed in the store's architecture, a tower of containers in contrasting colors. Analogous to the design of Apple Stores, the store is a 3D manifestation of brand identity.