Dorm Rooms built from Shipping containers
Colleges and universities are facing a problem: overcrowded dorms. After the COVID-19 pandemic, students have overpopulated dorms with remote work and limited housing spaces. Because universities face limits on housing, shipping container dorms have come into play, resuming the college life of communal living and student on-campus housing. These innovative structures are functional, affordable, and environmentally conscious, creating a unique space to aid the needs of students.

Fisk University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, opened a new 98-bed student housing complex composed of repurposed shipping containers for the fall 2023 semester. The container dorms are modular, cost-effective units—making their way to be the first of their kind in Nashville. The container housing totaled around $4 million—about 40 percent less than constructing the same number of beds in a traditional dorms. 


Fisk University experienced many benefits and overcame many challenges dealing with overcrowded student housing. Let’s dive into the benefits of shipping container dorms!


Layout of Fisk University's Container Dorms for the Fall 2023 Semester

Layout of Fisk University's Container Dorms for the Fall 2023 Semester 



Shipping container dorms offer a tremendous level of design flexibility. Shipping containers can be stacked, arranged, and modified to create different layouts and configurations.

For instance, if you want to add a study space or dining and gathering area, add a top deck! Top decks are an innovative, unique way for students to socialize on top of their dorms. Their gatherings and social opportunities establish a sense of community at the school. Also, students can receive health and mood benefits with access to study outside instead of feeling entrapped in a room.



Creative interior design can transform a shipping container into a cozy, comfortable living space. Modern furnishings, creative storage solutions, and innovative room dividers can maximize the usability of these compact units.


Interior of XCaliber's 20' Custom Cabin

Interior of XCaliber's 20' Custom Cabin 



The cost-effectiveness of shipping container dorms makes them an appealing choice for universities seeking affordable housing options. Due to the lower construction costs, reuse of materials, and simplified design and layout, shipping container dorms are more cost-effective than constructing a traditional dorm. Moreover, shipping container dorms have faster construction time, minimizing labor costs.



Traditional construction often involves extensive site preparation, including excavation, foundation pouring, and other groundwork. Shipping containers are prefabricated off-site, reducing on-site construction time. They involve less construction time, and thus, are ready to be used quickly.


Layout of Fisk University's Container Dorms

Layout of Fisk University's Container Dorms 



Shipping containers have numerous security features and can be modified to have even more security features. It is vital to ensure that students feel safe in their dorms. Shipping containers are made of steel, making them durable and able to withstand external forces. Added security features include window and door bars, lock boxes, and window shutters. You can also add any screen footage security features often used in houses and traditional dorms.



Shipping containers can transport by ship and truck flatbed. If a university only needs shipping container dorms temporarily, they can be rented, moved, and returned. This is beneficial for maintaining affordable housing and prevents overusing space when the shipping container dorms are not needed.


Transporting XCaliber's 40' Container

Transporting XCaliber's 40' Container 



Upcycling shipping containers reduces the demand for new construction materials and decreases the carbon footprint associated with traditional construction processes. Furthermore, repurposed shipping containers often incorporate energy-efficient features, such as solar roof vents, solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and natural ventilation. If a university wants to maintain its environmentally friendly school atmosphere, repurposed shipping containers would be a perfect option for dorms.




Limited housing opportunities can be a roadblock to activities and classes at a university. If schools cannot house students that need to be on or near campus, school activities and classes will have fewer participants. With shipping container dorms and their quick solutions, students can participate in school activities and attend classes.


Keetwonen (Amsterdam, Netherlands): Largest Container Dorms in the World

Keetwonen (Amsterdam, Netherlands): Largest Amount of Container Dorms in a University


Shipping container dorms are convenient and have numerous benefits for housing students. By transforming shipping containers into functional living spaces, universities can no longer experience an issue with overcrowding dorms. As student housing becomes more common and overpopulated, shipping container dorms stand out as a promising option that benefits individuals and the environment.


Contact one of our Container Experts to discover more creative uses for containers! 

📞 (940) 242-3178


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