What is WhiteCrate?


WhiteCrate© is a cleverly up-cycled, Second Life Structure© event-ready structure built from shipping containers. Designed and produced to fundamentally offer sustainability  and cost-effectivity with a contemporary and premium fit-&-finish, WhiteCrate is a temporary and semi-permanent solution suitable for rapid deployment short-term events and more permanent installations and buildings.

WhiteCrate uses three different sizes of shipping container as the core structure. – 10’ (3m) 20’ (6m) & 40’ (12m) in length with standard spec containers all being 8’ (2.5m) wide 8.6’ (2.6m) high. We have developed a series of finished designs that make the use of shipping containers as a building material and architectural solution much more accessible to individuals and organizations alike.

WhiteCrate is a pre-finished solution and the first of it’s kind in the UK tailored for various applications across a broad spectrum of sectors. Off the shelf mini retail stores, hospitality spaces, pop-up bars, pop-up clinics, meeting rooms, classrooms and even broadcast ready mini-studio designs have all been developed with very specific fit-and-finish detail to suit each specific purpose.

WhiteCrate has taken the container conversion to a new level that is based around existing event principals and demand – to be available with much shorter-lead-times and to be rapidly deployed in to various locations. All of the basic conversion such as entrance, exit and security doors, glazing, electrical distribution, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, high quality painted finish, floor covering and furniture are pre-designed so can be implemented immediately on demand. All elements are designed to be customized and the level of customization and branding is virtually unlimited, however an event ready WhiteCrate could be deployed to any site in the UK within 24 hrs. A service not available until now using converted containers.

A range of basic WhiteCrate designs has also been developed with the the community in mind. The unique quality of the product in its modularity, cost-effectiveness and economy-of-scale offer an alternative for temporary or ‘Pop-Up’ spaces for new business space and community service spaces such as drop-in clinics, advise centers and community hubs for the police, council and the health service.

Why use shipping containers as an architectural design solution or as a building material?


The shipping container prior to any conversion in its most basic state remains a truly exceptional piece of design in simplicity and form – a true design classic. Designed by Keith Tantlinger working with Malcom McLean, who spearheaded the container ship revolution in the 1950s, Tantlinger developed much of the early technology that made modern container shipping possible. His designs included the corner casting and Twistlock systems found on every intermodal container today and the act of releasing the patent to the open market allowing all to benefit only adds to the legacy and true vision of his design.

The team at WhiteCircle have long been inspired by the iconic but humble container and as soon we began to look at its attributes as a structure suitable to support a creative environment for live marketing purposes we quickly realised it was far more malleable than some of the conversion examples that we had seen previously suggested. The WhiteCrate© was born. Each donor unit lending its self to a truly overwhelming number of possibilities without resistance, almost encouraging ever more progressive designs and demands of the basic form. This purity and ease in working is fundamentally down to Tantlingers inspirational design and drives our passion allowing the boundaries of our creative and engineering skills and observations to be pushed on a daily basis.

The container is a perfect case study in modularity. In standard form its produced in three sizes 10’, 20’ and 40’ all identical in production except for their length, each unit engineered to an exact tolerance and never beyond. The massive commercial success of the shipping container has spawned an incredible and relentless production of new shipping containers over the past 50 years to the point where it is now unclear how many are actually in existence, but estimates in excess of 18 million seem realistic. Such a large number ensures ultimate efficiency in production and an absolute economy of scale. Attributes that we look for in any building material.

Questions, quite rightly, are being asked of all of us commercially and as individuals regarding our responsibility of sourcing raw materials and our conscience of building materials. The live marketing world specifically has to pay special attention to these questions due to the temporary and transient nature in much of what we build. The existing and limitless resource inspired our initial research and ultimate focus resulting in the very specific Second Life Structure© model which is fundamentally the philosophy behind WhiteCrate. The premise being that even our new containers have had a prior life, albeit very brief. New units ordered always contain various goods when being shipped from their manufacturing port, avoiding the inefficiency of empty containers in transit. And used units, normally around 10 years old,  will have covered their initial manufacturing and carbon footprint literally hundreds of times over before they are even selected for conversion.

This of course means that the initial logistical cost and associated geographical question marks over a building materials origin are offset without compromise. When paired with an external and internal fit-and-finish conversion program that is 100% UK based with many materials being locally sourced the net result is absolute minimum of resources and infrastructure, and zero unrecyclable material waste.

Affordability, rightly or wrongly remains, at the top of most UK design briefs and the current global position is presumably only going to drive this demand further still. Again we have found the container due to our Second Life Structure© model able to support all budgets in a uniquely open and accessible way. Good design has never been mutually exclusive to clients with the most money, but certain commercial sectors of the live marketing and temporary structure world do seem to have generated a two tier choice for the consumer relative to their budgets, with the bottom tier critically lacking in much of the better design and production techniques available to manufactures and service providers. We’ve witnessed how the container can counter this stark and un-attractive choice.

Our passion for the container is shared by many other creatives and engineers all over the world who have also embraced the “Cargotecture movement” choosing the container for a vast array of uses – from residential premises to shopping centers, agricultural micro farming to a pop-up TV studios. So we look forward to sharing as many of these with you in the future on our dedicated blog. And if you work with shipping containers we would love to hear from you!