London's Boxpark: Trendy short-term retail space
When the Dekalb Market opened in Brooklyn last Summer, the use of recycled shipping containers gave potential tenants a sense of stability: developers didn’t have long-term access to the land, so businesses could open shop in a structure that could be easily moved if that access dried up. Apparently, such flexibility has universal appeal (especially in a down economy): London’s new Boxpark development is also constructed from shipping containers, and designed to make relatively short-term use of land that might find buyers or other developers once the economy picks back up.
Boxpark opened earlier this month – a few months behind schedule, and a few retailers short of a packed house. It’s also fallen short of its goal to focus strictly on unique, local retailers: Levi’s, Puma, and Calvin Klein sit alongside shops that visitors will only find at the Boxpark. With typical retail development, it would be tempting to focus on these shortcomings; in this case, however, they’re overshadowed by the developers’ creation of not only a new aesthetic (which matches nicely with Boxpark’s industrial surroundings), but also a new approach to building for retail development. Rather than building for the long term, this Lego-like approach makes sense for the proposed five-year lifespan of the development. The structures are ready to move to a new location, or for rehabilitation into other types of spaces.
But that’s not all going on with shipping containers recently:
- Starbucks is using containers for a new, LEED-ready store design. The first of the Reclamation Drive-Thru models will appear in Tukwila, Washington.
- A new small business in Brewer, Maine does nothing but shipping container recycling. SnapSpace Solutions creates residential and commercial spaces out of used containers.
Got other stories involving repurposed shipping containers? Share them with us.
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- Guerrilla grafting: making use of community trees for food production.