Starbucks Shipping Container Cafes
Caffeine fiends can hardly escape the Starbucks brand, with their cafes popping up all over the place. The company has lately been taking steps to appeal to the eye, as well as the caffeine deprived nervous system, with container based architecture.
World famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has built many Starbucks around Asia. Let’s poke our nose around his first foray into container based architecture in Taiwan.
Hualien Bay Mall Starbucks, Taiwan
The Kengo Kuma website explained the idea:
“We stack up the 40 foot containers to a height of four levels, by staggering in the angle of 90 degrees to create a transparent building like a tall tree. Since they are stacked in a rotating pattern, we were able to produce various types of terraces as well.”
The 320 square metre store opened earlier this year and composes of 29 x 40ft shipping containers over two floors. The ‘urban forest’ idea flows inside and out of the building, with its angled outside appearance linking inside brightly coloured wall mural representing Taiwan’s aboriginal Amis people and windows that overlook a nearby mountain range.
Kuma didn’t design the interior – this was down to Starbucks itself – but the overall appearance presents a piece of architecture in the modern vernacular of the world it sits in.
“This is the first time Kuma has used shipping containers for his designs and was inspired by the foliage of coffee trees combined with the traditional Chinese bucket arch,” says a press release. “The stacking of the shipping containers created a much taller space and provides natural sunlight through the various skylights found throughout the structure.”
Long distance drivers around the world pause for an energy fix at Starbucks drive-thrus, and the Hualien site has one of those too – they can pause on the Nanbin Road to get their coffee and roll onto their next destination.
Architects often complain that containers ‘do not present a liveable space’. This issue has been exploited within the Hualien Starbucks store with cosy booths built into the spaces – areas too small to live in are certainly big enough to fix on caffeine and relax in. The booths sit at the ends of the ‘branches’ of the ‘tree’ that the container based building represents.
Starbucks and shipping containers
To date, Starbucks has opened some 45 shipping container cafes around the world, a large number in the US. The first was opened in 2011 as the company experimented with sustainable and cheaper ways of building its stores. The Tukwila, Washington store comprises four containers that were fitted out off-site and dropped in place in the city close to Starbucks hometown of Seattle.
One reason that Starbucks builds shipping container cafes is to test just how welcome they are by a local community. In Northglenn, Colorado one tiny shipping container Starbucks was set up to see what may happen. It became very busy and a purpose built store was constructed, while the shipping container Starbucks was packed up and moved on!
This is one of the great things about container based architecture – even the Hualien store is envisaged as a temporary building that can be dropped in place, fitted to local utilities and then when it is time to move on, loaded up on trucks for its next destination.
Shipping containers can also be fitted out inside away from the elements for a far lower overall cost than traditional architecture. For a global company like Starbucks, this is a great way of testing new territories before leaping in with a massive investment for a bigger, permanent structure.
Gateway Container Sales
We’ve reported on a few shipping container cafes and bars here at the Gateway Gazette. If you have similar ideas then drop us a line to see how we can help with our full range of used shipping containers.