Cardiff Box City: Using Shipping Containers for Inner City Regeneration
The Welsh Government has just given outline approval for a 400 shipping container ‘Box City’ to be developed in a derelict area of the capital city, Cardiff. It is expected that this will draw the young and upwardly mobile types who have lots of disposable income and will help drive the local economy.
Shipping containers, with their industrial look, are becoming very fashionable these days. Once the young and hip hung out in palatial surroundings where the quality of the architectural decoration added to the atmosphere, but it seems people are now drawn to hard, straight industrial lines in a sort of post-brutalist, post-industrial architectural language. Shipping containers answer this call with their harsh lines and weather beaten feeling.
What Will Box City Be Like?
Spread over four levels, business owners and entrepreneurs will be invited to rent either a 20ft or a 40ft shipping container. These will be pre-fitted in a number of ways:
- Some will have kitchens and seating areas for cafes and restaurants
- Others will have desks and Wi-Fi for startup businesses and meetings
- A third type will have the fittings in place for boutique shops
- The young and hip love alcohol. What about craft beer and new gin bars?
Business owners will be able to rent spaces from timespans between a few hours and up to three years. For the entrepreneur or creative collective this is a great opportunity to either test a business or to have a space to drive a concept until it is time to grow out of the space or to fail without excessive expenditure on rents and office space. In business it is always good to fail quickly and move on – the rental system reflects this.
The Draw to Visitors
It is hoped that by the young and forward thinking types using Box City that they in turn will draw in those who identify with them. The boutiques will encourage those who like to be up to the minute with fashion. Those who like something a little more adventurous than fish and chips on a Friday will find cutting edge cuisines. Those who love challenging their palates with novel beers and gins will come for that (as well as the fashion in the boutiques).
As well as the businesses to which the people are drawn, the developers behind Box City are setting up a series of festivals and cultural events to give the site exposure and people another reason just to be there. There will be music, food and drink festivals as well as yoga and mindfulness events, while the organisers plan outdoor movie events and even business and trade shows to draw the sort of people who will spend money and help drive Box City’s micro-economy. Seasonal markets will add to this too.
South Wales in Need of Regeneration
Cardiff is leading South Wales out of its own post-industrial slump. This region made vast amounts of money through coal and steel in its heyday and after the biggest mines closed, so the port of Cardiff suffered. Unemployment was high and the prospects for those living there was poor.
Over the last 20 or so years there has been real interest in developing the service economy and re-using Cardiff’s old industrial spaces for things like IT startups and music venues. A major driver for the local economy has been the creation of the devolved Welsh Government that brings money through its business support services and civil service. What with the Millennium rugby Stadium in the city centre, along with a growing student population in the University of Wales, the city has undergone a transformation into a vibrant, post-industrial economy.
It is with no irony then that the post-industrial, post-brutalist lines of a 400 shipping container Box City is going to be used to inject more money into the local economy, hopefully drawing in people both from the towns of the South Wales Valleys but down the M4 motorway from nearby Bristol and the West of England. Build it and they will come? With enough upwardly mobile types in Cardiff already due to its decades of regeneration, the Box City development may well be arriving at just the right time to light the way for Cardiff to charge into a very bright future indeed.
Inspired to create your own shipping container project?
Gateway Container Sales & Hire has hundreds of shipping containers in stock for sale or hire! Contact us now to discuss your options when it comes to building with recycled shipping containers – we’ve got access to a wide variety of specialists in the local community from architects to builders who are experienced in construction with shipping containers. Get a free quote!