More than just a steel box - shipping containers ubiquitous in 2018

It was a year when shipping containers were modified into many different creations – and with construction still booming the big steel boxes continued to pop up on streets around the country.

Royal Wolf, the largest supplier of shipping containers in Australasia, has been involved in a wide range of projects this year – from designer dog kennel hotels for the NZ Defence Force and pedestrian tunnels at Auckland’s CRL project, to container accommodation for drilling workers in the Far North.

In Bay of Plenty, Royal Wolf worked with Little Big Events and the Tauranga City Council on the planning, design, and engineering requirements for hospitality and retail precinct Our Place Tauranga.

Containers were chosen for the construction project because they are strong, secure and have an industrial chic aesthetic that suits an inner-city environment. 

Little Big Events director Chris Duffy says Our Place Tauranga taps into council’s Heart of the City campaign and it has transformed the area into an eating and shopping destination.

“The idea of Our Place Tauranga was to enliven and revitalise the inner city and it’s done that to the point where there is a micro economy establishing itself and locals are loving it,” he says. 

At Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology, a modified shipping container is being used as a giant display case housing a 1950s Morris Minor for the Accelerate: Driving New Zealand.

Tee Atiau, MOTAT Exhibition Coordinator, says it is essential each exhibition provides visitors with a new and captivating experience every time they visit – and the creative use of a converted shipping container helps bring this vision to life.  

“We’re always looking for new and exciting ways for visitors to interact with our exhibitions and the display container enables us to utilise the space better. It offers visitors a range of viewpoints and provides an ideal space for our interactive driving experience.”

Iceland Drilling, working on the Ngawha Geothermal Power Station expansion in Northland, has used container accommodation in other parts of the world and it was the best option locally.

Project Manager Gunnlaugur Már Sigurdsson says the beauty of this style of temporary accommodation is that it’s strong and can withstand the heavy-duty nature of a drilling site yet it’s homely and comfortable.

“A home away from home is really important when you’re running an operation that is running 24/7,” he says.

“Projects like the Defence Force dog kennels and Our Place Tauranga are a great showcase of Kiwi ingenuity that we’re so well known for,” says Paul Creighton, Royal Wolf Executive General Manager.

Mr Creighton says Royal Wolf also developed its Wolf Lock premium hire container this year, a new product that makes opening container doors easier.

“Opening a conventional container, with heavy steel doors and a number of large levers, is hard work and requires a twisting motion using two arms. The Wolf Lock allows access through a single lever that needs only one hand and light pressure to open it.”  

He says the ongoing construction activity around New Zealand has increased demand for already popular container products such as hoardings, which are used as pedestrian walkways near construction sites.

“Our containers are being used for everything and anything. Considering they’re essentially a big steel box, it’s amazing how versatile they can be. Even I’ve been surprised by some of the projects we’ve been a part of this year with things like the dog kennels and the Morris Minor driving experience.”    



New digs for defence dogs

The working dogs of the New Zealand Defence Force got fancy new kennels made from shipping containers. The two custom 20-foot containers are complete with cages, internal rooms and air conditioning to keep the hard-working pups happy and comfortable.

Home away from home for drilling workers

When you’re working 24/7 to drill five 1750m deep wells, you need a home away from home to escape to. The 19 accommodation containers at Northland’s Ngawha Geothermal Power Station come complete with ensuite, kitchenette, work station, TV, and air conditioning, and are home to almost 50 workers.  

The Wolf Lock

If you’ve ever tried opening a shipping container, it’s like wrestling a 2-tonne steel box. It was this battle that container specialists to design a new lock design that makes container doors easier and safer to open.

CRL pedestrian container tunnel

One of the busiest pedestrian spots in the country happened to be right in the middle of the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in New Zealand. During the development of Auckland’s City Rail Link a two-way container tunnel, made out of eight 20-foot hoarding containers, was built to create a walkway from Queen St to the ferry terminal to ensure pedestrians safe passage.

Kingsland fire station gets Hollywood treatment

It’s a lonely container, but it’s doing a solid job! With Kingsland’s historic fire station getting a makeover into flash new apartments, a hoarding container was installed outside to help protect passing pedestrians from the construction work and falling debris on the street front site.

Little Andromeda Pop Up

A venue, festival and hang-out zone for all things performing arts, this pop up Christchurch event operated throughout October and November out of six shipping containers. It was so successful organisers are preparing to do it all over again next year in another location around the city.

Tauranga’s “Container City”

The new “container city” in Tauranga, known as Our Place Tauranga, is a food, entertainment and social hub made up of more than 30 20-foot and 40-foot containers that vendors have fitted out and made their own.

$790 million Newmarket development a container hot spot 

With more than 85 shipping containers on site, the Westfield Newmarket development was the largest construction project container specialist Royal Wolf has supplied product for in New Zealand. The containers in Newmarket are being used for everything from pedestrian walkways around part of the 88,150 sq. metre site, through to multi-storey container site offices, toilet blocks, and refrigeration.

Morris minor driving experience

Museum curators transformed a 20-foot shipping container into an interactive display at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) as part of its latest exhibition Accelerate: Driving New Zealand. The activation allows visitors to take the 1950s Morris Minor on a virtual drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Live art inside shipping containers

An array of art projects – ranging from an augmented reality experience using traditional Maori artefacts through to live music performances and installations – were brought to life inside shipping containers for Wellington’s annual Performance Arcade event.

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