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Homes, Hotels and Hangouts: Shipping Container Trend Hits Twin Cities in Minnesota

Shipping Container Home in Minnesota

Homes, hotels, and hangouts. 

All of the above prove to be common uses for shipping containers in the Minneapolis and Twin Cities region. Residents and developers alike quickly embrace the most significant benefits shipping containers offer – durability, cost-effectiveness, customization, and unique architectural style. 

Shipping containers are also ideal for use in harsh weather conditions, like those that can pop up in Minnesota. The containers can stand up to high winds and, with proper insulation, maintain warm temperatures inside. 

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This blog will highlight a few ways shipping containers in Minneapolis are being used in bordering communities like St. Paul, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Woodbury, and Minnetonka. 

Minnesota Couple Turns Shipping Containers into Custom Studios 

Minnesota’s Andy Berg is a civil engineer by day and Lego builder by night. And by Legos, he means shipping containers.

“It is like putting a bunch of Legos in front of someone,” Berg said in a recent Minnesota-Star Tribune story about the launch of Latitude Studios. “Everyone has different ideas about what they would create.”

Berg and his wife, Sarah, recently quit their day jobs to start Latitude Studios, which focuses on turning available and inexpensive shipping containers into backyard studios, lakeside hangouts, and anything else a customer can imagine.

He found inspiration from a trip to a 12-acre facility north of downtown Minneapolis. He saw stacks of multicolored shipping containers that he envisioned as part of his next building project.  

According to the news story, one of his first personal projects was turning his backyard camper trailer into a remote office during the pandemic last year.  

Working out of that backyard trailer, to which he added an air conditioner and other amenities, made him think that he had stumbled onto a viable business idea. Thus, Latitude Studios was born. 

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Minneapolis Architect Launches Business Focusing on Shipping Container Homes 

While 160 or 320 square feet doesn’t sound like much space to live or work in, it’s more than enough if you know how to use it properly.  

Architect and Artist Shane Schaaf of Blackbox Container Studios in Minneapolis offers up plenty of ideas on using the space – specifically space inside a shipping container. 

His business is riding the tailwinds of the tiny house movement, creating container homes as living spaces made from corten steel shipping containers. These used shipping containers were previously in service carrying thousands of pounds of goods across the ocean.  

“They are stackable. They are super innovative. You can put them side by side or on top of each other. And they come ready to ship, which is the heart of any kind of modular structure,” Schaaf said in Mpls.-St.Paul Magazine story. 

Two of Schaaf’s home designs, a Northern Retreat made of a single container, and a Traditional Bungalow made of two containers, were displayed at a recent home show.  

He has other ideas for repurposing shipping containers in the Twin Cities area, including a backyard guesthouse, pool house, greenhouse, and a yoga studio. 

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Shipping Container Home Taking Shape in Northern Minneapolis 

Minnesota designer and builder David Schiller recently spoke to a local TV news station about his idea to help provide affordable housing to the community. 

He’s working on the area’s first-ever shipping container home – a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on Irving Avenue in northern Minneapolis. 

“This is the first shipping container home in the Twin Cities. We got two 40-foot containers here and a 20-foot container over here. We added the third container to give you that feeling of being in a spacious house,” said Schiller during the interview.  

While the shipping containers were modified to be more like a traditional home, the designer made sure to incorporate some aspects of the container to give the home architectural uniqueness, like using the doors of the shipping containers to make the balcony. 

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Shipping Container Home Trend Booming in Minneapolis 

Visitors to the Minneapolis area have plenty of hotels, motels, B&Bs, resorts, and other lodging options to choose from. But now, they can add some very unique accommodations to their list. 

The LightHotel is a one-room mobile hotel that stands as the ultimate example of ecotourism and sustainable living in the Twin Cities. The project was led by Alchemy and weeHouse® founder Geoffrey Warner and built with the help of University of Minnesota School of Architecture students. 

The hotel’s interior makes the most of limited space inside the salvaged 8′ x 20′ shipping container. Like most hotel rooms, this room doesn’t have a kitchen, so overnight guests can order “room service” from nearby eateries.  

The room was built to handle Minnesota’s year-round climate and features a spray foam shell, triple-glazed windows, doors, solar-powered HVAC, LED lighting, and hydronic in-floor heat. 

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Have you thought of even more ways to get creative with shipping containers in Minnesota? Begin browsing shipping containers in the Minneapolis, St. Paul, or Twin Cities areas here.