The innovative adaptation of an old invention.

Driven by technological advances, industrial challenges and continually shifting economic demands, we often witness the pioneering mindset successfully fusing ricochets of past inventions with the rise of new applications to provide empowering industry solutions.

The ‘Container Shelter’ stands in testimony to this concept of novel adaptation with the merging of dome like waterproof fabric membranes (new technology) together with shipping containers (old invention) thus providing a perfect, flexible, storage facility with total protection against the often harsh natural elements.

Meeting the scope of an emerging market and in order to overcome the limitations of permanent construction, the ‘Container Shelter’ offers a cost-effective, sturdy, transportable and easily deployed modular shelter system.To fully appreciate the significant benefit of this innovatively designed shelter system, it is important to allude to the shipping container, often referred to as the “strongest box in the world”. Not only has the steel container withstood the test of time but it imparted new applications and a variety of commercial and industrial possibilities.


Nearly 60 years ago, Malcolm Mclean, an American trucking firm owner, set off a revolution in international trade with a ‘relatively’ simple concept. He resisted the laborious and costly process called ‘break bulk’ where by all maritime freight was loaded one by one onto a truck or train, driven to the dock where each box would be unloaded and hoisted into the ship. At the ship’s port of destination, the entire process would reverse.

McLean had a vision for a system in which cargo would be lifted as one single bulk from trucks to ships to trains and back again without any loss or delay.

By 1956, he invented the modern steel shipping container and introduced a new model called ‘containerisation’. His concept allowed for the reinforced metal containers to be loaded directly from the truck onto the ship, forever changing how freight is shipped around the world. ‘Containerisation’ increased in momentum when the U.S. military started developing such units on a large scale using the concept to rapidly and efficiently resupply its forces abroad. However, due to some transportation companies within the United States adopting their own container sizes, logistical and incompatibility problems arose.

Furthermore, European container sizes were not congruent with the American industry. By 1958, it was apparent that national and international standards and regulations needed to be introduced in order to address the scope of control and efficiency.

In the summer of 1959 container sizes had been regulated to 40’x8’x8′ and 20’x8’x8′ for international shipment. The standards for containers were published between 1968 and 1970 by the International Maritime Organisation encompassing consistency in loading, transporting and unloading of goods in ports throughout the world.

Additionally, it provided the tapestry for a global containerised intermodal freight transport system allowing for saved time and resources. “Intermodal” means that the metal containers can be moved from one mode of transport to another without unloading or reloading the contents of the container. The ISO shipping container became accepted globally by every shipping line.


The principle use for shipping containers is for international ocean shipping, truck, or train freight. However, the military was perhaps the first to realise its versatility as storage units and subsequently its value as strong military housing, offices, medical facilities and much more.

The revolution of the shipping economy led to massive excesses of containers and the interest shifted when the world realised that shipping containers were stacking up in the ports of every major city in the world. This situation provided additional opportunities to discover further uses for this strong box which would not only hold tons of cargo inside but easily withstand the weight of 8 or 10 more fully loaded containers on the top of it.

Conversely, when the shipping container is used for any other purpose, other than transportation, the name for the ISO shipping container becomes ISBU (Intermodal Steel Building Unit). For many years shipping containers have been used as secure storage units by construction companies. They were soon modified and used as small workshops, refrigerators, offices, emergency shelter or low income housing etc…

Shipping container lodgings have been considered and developed as a result of an architectural interest in merging mobility and manufacturing into building construction. However, in most developed countries, container housing continues to be a somewhat radical concept despite a significant shift in trends since 2006.

Building up a project is always a challenging task requiring secure storage facilities for valuable equipment and stock as well as protection from extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, the resources and construction industries are continually in need of shelter from the elements which can at times erode the resources of the operation.


Cost effectiveness, flexibility and ease of relocation are key elements in the development and success of such structural solutions. Combining an innovative dome shape high quality fabric cover with shipping containers, converted this existing resource into an economical shelter system.

This concept filtered to our shores. Allshelter was the first Australian company to construct this alternative shelter system engineered by tensioning a high strength woven polyethylene fabric over a curved lightweight steel framework. This unparalleled solution was primarily developed to meet the need of the mining and resources sector for a robust yet rapidly deployable and temporary shelter which could be moved from site to site or contract to contract.

Family owned and operated, Allshelter was established in 1999 and worked alongside registered structural engineers and fabric experts to refine their process and technology.

Their easy-to-install framework has the flexibility to be mounted on various container configuration providing the highest quality weather protection systems covers to the widest imaginable range of assets in most market sectors including military, community, industrial, mining, construction, aviation and, of course, agriculture. Allshelter weather protection systems are easy to take down and transport in case of relocation.

Whether it is a short term project for temporary storage or a long term storage needing something flexible and efficient, Allshelter weather protection systems has the enduring response to the essential reason people build to create shelter and protection from danger.