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Gothenburg stacked cargo containers as instant house/offices

Mats Johansson has rehabbed shipping containers in the port of Gothenburg (Sweden) for over 20 years, but in the past decade he’s being hired to turn aging cargo capsules into architecture. He’s created workshops, pop-up bars and restaurants and soon he will help create student housing from containers, but he calls the creative workspace he helped convert for Absolut Vodka, “something special”.

Four containers, once used to ship vodka, were transformed into a pop-up studio for a 3-day recycling hackathon in Stockholm. Architects Astrid Skog and Charlotte Stuveback designed the interiors to reflect the containers’ industrial origins. Materials are recycled from the Absolut factory: chairs made from packing boxes and ceiling lighting from bottles. Other furnishings are secondhand: a reused cable drum for a table and old chairs dip-dyed to look more “modern”. (They worked in close collaboration with Tweek Interior, a fine carpentry and stylist team led by Åsa Rosén).

The containers were designed to be easily packed up and rebuilt anywhere else in the world. The walls plywood boxes on the walls are storage space for transit (the cardboard chairs fit perfectly). The provisional kitchen is plumbed with simple plastic containers to ensure it will plug and play anywhere.

The Creative Space was inaugurated in the Gröndal area of Stockholm, a formerly industrial area targeted by the city for future residential use. “They were situated in a parking lot so no one really used it,” explains Stuveback. “It’s also so nice because with the temporary structure you can also change the feeling of an area for a shorter period of time and then you can remove it.

So it was kind of cool to be that in-between structure before it will change from this rough place before it will change and be cleaned up and be totally different in a couple of years.”

Skog and Stuveback had never worked with shipping containers prior to this project, but they were inspired by how easily such an industrial material can look “exclusive”, something that feeds their interest in making these into homes.

“It also helps the creativity that is a bit rough and we didn’t even use luxurious materials, we used wood and metal and some white paint and corrugated paper,” explains Skog who likes how the end result came out feeling less-than-industrial. “It’s a good thing because it also can be used for homes and residential because it means it doesn’t have to be that industrial inside.”