Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Shipping container parklets in Montreal

Community Spotlight, Placemaking Globally

Designers, planners, and architects have been taking advantage of the versatility of the humble shipping container for years. Many of the utilitarian steel containers have been liberated from their nomadic existences, traveling the world by rail, sea, or road to be transformed into a variety of new uses.

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In downtown Las Vegas, a few blocks southeast of the 70 year-old Golden Nugget Casino, dozens of shipping containers and pre-fab units were assembled into the Downtown Container Park (above), a place for start-up companies, restaurants, and shops to gain their footing in Sin City before they can find bigger, more permanent locations.

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In Saitama, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo, the architectural firms Hibinosekkei and Youji No Shiro created a kindergarten (above) with shipping containers, reinforcing their structural sturdiness to help withstand earthquakes.

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And the world over, architects are embracing the shipping container as a useful tool for residential design, whether it be by the tiny home movement as above, in rural New York…

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… or on the grand scale, as with this design by Ganti + Associates for temporary housing in Mumbai, India (above).

On a much smaller scale than the 100-meter-tall Mumbai high-rise, shipping containers are proving to be an excellent vessel for providing semi-temporary public spaces within an urban setting. In Montreal, Quebec the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood has experimented with the creation of two “parklets” built within shipping containers.

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The project, named Placottoir or “a place to chat,” utilize two modified shipping containers, each brightly painted by local artists, and filled with seating situated to facilitate public interactions.

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Montreal’s Placottoir are not unlike the Spark: Monument Circle parklets around the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument created by the collaboration of Big Car Collective and The City of Indianapolis (below). Perhaps incorporating relatively low-cost shipping containers turned portable mini-parks could be the next placemaking project to appear in an Indianapolis neighborhood near you!

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