The Shipping Container Classroom: The Northern Art School Case Study

We don’t know about you, but container conversions and education just seem to go hand in hand. From storage shipping container units to workshops to shipping container classrooms, there are lots of ways that a cargo container can be modified for educational purposes. Using shipping container in a school makes sense, after all, they’re a cost-effective building material that can easily be converted and redesigned to suit a variety of purposes. Not only that, but they are also easy to move, durable and resilient to both student wear and tear and the English weather. It comes of no surprise then, that Cleveland Containers was asked by The Northern Art School to work on an exciting project for them – creating their new shipping container classroom.


As the schools’ intake of students increases, so does this need for functional, sturdy classroom space to house the pupils during their lessons. Modifying two used shipping containers provided the perfect opportunity to create a strong, durable outdoor classroom which could be up and running in a short space of time.

nshipping container classroom being builtn

The framework


The outdoor classrooms were created out of two shipping containers, one 40ft and the other 20ft in length. These two shipping containers were interjoined with an internal walkway and door to form one building unit that could be placed next to the main school building.


Light it up


To ensure that the students were not learning by candlelight, the containers were fitted with five 6ft x 3 ft slot windows. This immediately made the container space light and made it feel more spacious. The room was illuminated further with the help of square LED office lighting and electronic skylights to help keep the classroom well-lit, even on the rainiest Monday morning.

ninside shipping container classroom hallwayn

A drop-down tile ceiling was also installed into the shipping container. A dropped ceiling is a secondary ceiling that hangs just below the main ceiling (in this case, the top of the shipping container). There are various advantages of choosing this type of ceiling, namely that they can be used to aesthetically cover pipes, wiring and any other unsightly but essential internal building components. They also are easily replaced, which means that the shipping container can be used by The Northern Art School for many years to come.

nshipping container classroomn

Safe from the elements


Middlesborough, believe it or not, is not one of the warmest places in the world. As such, the shipping container was fitted with insulated and laminated flooring. Insulation is a common problem that is overlooked when modifying shipping containers. As experts in the field, we knew that correct insulation was essential to the project. The insulated flooring will keep the students warm and dry from the outside elements, allowing them to concentrate on their studies in the safety of their new container classroom. Traditionally built to transport thousands of goods across the sea, the container classrooms are also waterproof and extremely resilient in all weather conditions. So no matter what the weather throws their way, the container classrooms will stay standing and keep their pupils dry. 


Shipping containers can be modified and designed in whatever which way you so desire. From stripped-back styles to the quirky and colourful, the possibilities are endless. They can be adjusted to function as homes, portable offices, your new workspace or shop to helping the NHS. Whatever weird and whacky idea you have in mind for a shipping container modification, get in touch today to find out how we can help.


As experts in customising containers, we can help you turn your modification idea into reality, all you have to do is get in touch with the Unit Hire team.

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