What is the layout (or physical arrangement) of a shantytown made of storage containers? It is meant to be chaotic, but are there any organizing principles I should be aware of?

Comercial Santo Amaro, 2007 serie Favelas © Dionisio González

The cargo containers are different sizes and designs of intermodal space shipping containers: so probably long and thin, stackable. It is more diaspora slum than bohemian chic, containers are cut and modified, and other materials fill-in the gaps or create extensions. I'm guessing it was a harbor freight yard originally (or near one), but this town has been here a while (decades), and they've had (at least intermittently) the ability to hire machinery to move the containers around. The overall "footprint" of the town is constrained, so it stacks upward probably 5 or 6 containers high (a typical container can be split into 2 levels). I am not worried about the composition of the boxes or the "walls", that is intended to be chaotic. But would there be any organization to the shanty town itself?

I am ignorant how a town like this "happens", if there is a power structure or it is collectively spontaneous. I assume there's an evolution from squatting in empty containers to re-arranging a town. Is everyone just doing their own thing? Can I buy a container and plop it on someone else's container? There must be some rules.

  • Who is in charge? Is there a landlord? A collective government? Is everyone squatting?

  • Are there public areas? a wider "street" or plaza? Or is it just a residential rat maze to maximize living space?

  • Is it enclosed with only a few "gates", or is it porous with anyone coming and going?

Since I don't know how this evolves in real life, I don't understand the goals and needs of the people doing it, or how they might plan and organize their environment.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the best question I have seen in a while. I suspect we'll have to research how slums organize in places like Kibera or Dharavi to find a good answer. +1 $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ This appears to be a question about a real-world, modern environment, not about something you are trying to build or develop. Explaining modern culture/society is not the purpose of the Worldbuilding SE. Please explain how this is appropriate for the site. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ It's in the distant future on a different planet. That's also how the containers are 2-levels high. I am not sure how these facts change the question. The people are human, so human-sized and human needs, some futuristic conveniences, but I think it can be assumed from "shanty town of storage containers" there are socio-economic factors and these are the have-nots of my world. I could just "make stuff up" out of dystopian cliches (tbh, I am) but I am at a point where I actually need to construct the layout of the town and realized there must be more to it than just a pile of chaotic blocks. $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion I like to add en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City Not a real slum but it goes vertically unlike real slums. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ I am unclear as to the purpose of your included image and its relation to shantytowns of storage containers. The picture you posted is the work of artist Dionisio Gonzalez (which you should credit, btw), the piece you've included is titled Comercial Santa Amaro (2007). It is a digital composite image (more info about artist) and not a real place. Also your question seems to be asking about slums / shantytowns in general, are you specifically interested in storage containers? $\endgroup$
    – Jason C
    Mar 31, 2017 at 14:19

10 Answers 10


Let's take a look at Kowloon Walled City - closest real world analog of what you're asking.


There used to be somewhat competing gangs. There was, generally, a truce between them, and people who didn't belong to any gang was generally left alone. No taxes, no police. Small troubles were your troubles, big troubles were dealt with by the gang. Was there someone on top? Probably not, but even if there was, he was not interfering. Rumor says that Triads were in charge at the top.


Generally if you were able to build a living area for yourself, without making anything to collapse, it was yours. If you bought, were given or inherited a place, it was yours. If someone was trying to kick you out, see "big troublemakers". Gangs built "modular settlements" for their workers and for regular people any settlement needs: cooks, seamstress, cleaners, all that stuff you need to run opium den, brothel or illegal casino. Most of people weren't involved in any criminal activity - at least not knowingly and directly. You mop the floor and don't care if it's just a drink bar or brothel's front desk, things like that.

Public spaces



This was pretty much all you got. A tiny bit of sunlight.

Normal alleys were much more like this:


There were some exceptions:

The yamen in the heart of the City was also a major social centre, a place for residents to talk, have tea or watch television, and to take classes such as calligraphy. The Old People's Centre also held religious meetings for Christians and others. Other religious institutions included the Fuk Tak and Tin Hau temples, which were used for a combination of Buddhist, Taoist, and animist practices.

But that was pretty much it.


The City's dozens of alleyways were often only 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) wide, and had poor lighting and drainage. An informal network of staircases and passageways also formed on upper levels, which was so extensive that one could travel north to south through the entire City without ever touching solid ground. Construction in the City went unregulated, and most of the roughly 350 buildings were built with poor foundations and few or no utilities. Because apartments were so small — a typical unit was 23 m2 (250 sq ft) — space was maximised with wider upper floors, caged balconies, and rooftop additions. Roofs in the City were full of television antennae, clothes lines, water tanks, and rubbish, and could be crossed using a series of ladders.

No reason to think that your city would be different.


This is the big point. Kowloon emerged because it was free. Free from governments, free from regulations, free from taxes and police force. Building a place for someone was relatively cheap. Gangs were earning money and were glad to use people who wanted to run from highly regulated societies.

Could it have been built with storage containers?

If you look thorough the photos, you probably will agree with me that some parts of it probably was. Modularity was a thing, that's sure. Containers has some stacking limit and possibly Kowloon wouldn't be as high if built mainly with them, but they are readily available, so might make construction cheaper. Anyway, after some times lines would start to blur - just like it happened with Kowloon.


There's a difference between the trendy places that make an apartment building out of shipping containers (which is what you have as your picture) and actual slums.

enter image description here

While there were patents for shipping container living as far back as the 1960s, the first place to do it where it was widely documented was Armenia in the 1980s after an earthquake.

many of these ramshackle Armenian shipping container homes, which they call “domiks,” are still occupied by people who never got back on their feet after the quake, even though most of the containers have become rusted and leaky, and are located on public lands. A few years later, during the Persian Gulf War, the US military used shipping containers as bomb shelters and mobile prisons, and the idea spread from there. By 1998, Simon’s Town School in South Africa had built its new school building from 40 shipping containers at a cost of only $227,000. SOURCE

How it happens organically sometimes is this: disaster strikes, and people send supplies to help. They send it in shipping containers. Instead of sending them back, the people keep them to live in because they have no homes and they are better than tents. They are then stacked on public land, land no one really claims or a donated area.

Or it could be because of war--in which case they will start as a refugee camp, with a mix of tents and containers--and in this case, yes, it will be orderly, with stairs and everything, rather than rope ladders or something rickety.

enter image description here

As to structure--it depends. Are they actually doing paperwork? Or is this a slum? Because they are unlikely to even be wired up correctly if at all. Take a look at this solution to lighting in the Philippines

Know as well that the pictures I have provided are relatively new. There are disadvantages to container living (it's a hotbox with no ventilation or light), like rusting and people actually tend to use them as a base to build other, wooden structures on top of. Also, a flat roof is not a good thing, so in places where they've been there a while they tend to add a slanted roof with corrugated tin.

Who is in charge? Is there a landlord? A collective government? Is everyone squatting?

Who is in charge depends on the government and if it's a slum or something trendy or just a cheap way for the government to build housing. Same answer to landlord. They could all be squatting, or not, as you please. It's your world and your neighborhood.

Are there public areas? a wider "street" or plaza? Or is it just a residential rat maze to maximize living space?

Again, this depends on how and why it was built and where the containers came from.

Is it enclosed with only a few "gates", or is it porous with anyone coming and going?

This implies planning. This is really going to depend on what people need. They'll do what works.

I would research Hoovervilles. No two were alike. They grew out of the Great Depression. Do look at the link above. Below is a useful snippet of that article.

Most Hoovervilles operated in an informal, unorganized way, but the bigger ones would sometimes put forward spokespersons to serve as a liaison between the camp and the larger community. St. Louis’ Hooverville, built in 1930, had its own unofficial mayor, churches and social institutions. This Hooverville thrived because it was funded by private donations. It maintained itself as a free-standing community until 1936, when it was razed.

You've got to look closely at WHY and HOW your community of containers was built before you can determine what it actually looks like. That's up to you, you need to do what makes sense in the context of your story.

So, you know, they could be hipster housing and look like this:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ LOL the hipsters! $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ @wetcircuit For just $50 a day, you can house a hipster. Adopt one today and you'll get a packet with a picture of your hipster. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2017 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ The hipsters are business units rather than residential. ContainerVille $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Mar 31, 2017 at 7:35
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    $\begingroup$ Fwiw the OP's picture isn't an apartment. It's a digital composite image by Dionisio Gonzalez. Scroll down on the gallery on the left, it's the piece titled Comercial Santo Amaro. More info about him here -- "Combining existing urban structures with digitally drawn architecture his landscaped images are deceiving yet convincing." And also: LOL, the hipsters. $\endgroup$
    – Jason C
    Mar 31, 2017 at 14:26

Tangentially I lived in the equivalent of a 20' ISO shipping container when I was deployed to Bosnia in the early 2000's. The thing was called a Coremek if I remember correctly, and the military used them because they were relatively cheap, modular and could be used to build up living spaces with relatively simple engineering resources. Corimeks had the same attachment points and lifting points as an ISO container, so the same sorts of forklifts and crane equipment used for shipping containers easily translated to moving the shelters around as well.

Of course this wasn't as simple as just piling the containers on top of each other, a steel framework was built and the Corimeks were stacked inside the framework. The framework also took the structural loads of the weight of the shelters and people, supported walkways and stairs, and also provided conduits for power cables and so on.

enter image description here

The Banja Luka "Metal Factory". You can see examples of how the shelters are assembled in a metal framework to make "apartment blocks"

This demonstrates that using ISO containers for shelter can be taken to a higher level, but this also involves organization, planning and resources (in this case of the military) to assemble the materials and build the into large blocks of residencies. This is unlikely to happen spontaneously in a shantytown (and also leads to the question of who is moving the ISO containers around, you need some heavy machinery to do so), and ISO containers are not pre wired, nor have doors and windows properly fitted to them.

The work around is that once a military base built this way has been decommissioned, it may be cheaper and simpler to sell off the property without dismantling the shelter blocks built out of pre made containers. Then the characters will have essentially abandoned apartment buildings to move into.

  • $\begingroup$ Great ideas, thank you! It's a reason to have had the container city in the first place, and why it might have been repurposed or disused. $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 31, 2017 at 2:21
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    $\begingroup$ ^^ this would be very similar to how some cities in England started (old Roman forts/encampments) You can look that up for even more information on the process $\endgroup$
    – Jeutnarg
    Mar 31, 2017 at 16:25

The paradox

Stacking shipping containers requires large equipment. Shantytowns by definition are organicly grown without central oversight. These things are add odds with each other.

If you want a shantytown to form with shipping containers you'll likely find indivudual people cutting and ripping pieces of the existing containers and take them to their home. They lack the equipment to take them as a whole. So you'll end up with something ramshacle that happens to use parts of shipping containers.

I also doubt that could support multistore constructions. If you want that you gotta approach this differently. To have a shantydown develop upwards you need not only limited space but also support.

Used to be different

So you don't start this as a shantytown. If we're stranded near a shipping yard. Let the survivors control the equipment there to build themselves a home out of shipping containers. This will be your primitive downtown area.

Now over time either more people showed up or the population boomed. Either way new housing was needed. People started to build, filling the ground first. Existing higher floors added some extra rooms and balconies. Then things started to merge. People ran out of room.

The rest

Now for your sub questions. Nobody is on charge. This isn't an organized event. People get stranded here, decided they need shelter. They don't seek permission. If the local government wants them gone they'd be gone. As long as it would be enformed. Words mean nothing to these people.

Therefor there also no public buildings or facilities. No plumbing, power is also highly unlikely. This also means the edges are at least porous if not ill defined. The more people come the bigger it just grows. In whatever direction is the easiest.

Now there could be a leadership but not one that build the town. No this leadership would arise after the fact. Likely has a strong criminal presence if not at least deeply corrupt. Think of gang leaders who want some semblance of order around them. Maybe a local business man who didn't flee the moment his economics improved. Maybe someone who controls infrastructure like clean water or power.

  • $\begingroup$ There's always the possibility that the containers were abandoned there for some reason. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ I assumed they'd be stacked into squares, as in to thick/deep for living. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ This makes a lot of sense! I was having trouble with that paradox. I can build the container city first, then grow the shanty town on top of it. It is a fusion of two different things! The original "container city" might have plumbing and electricity, might even have some prefab housing modules or other large civic or industrial structures within it…. Thank you! This helps! $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ You're welcome. Indeed, it could also be old and worn. Might even put your 'leaders' here. It could also explain basic power, harder to get towards the edges and lots of 'stealing' it. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ Because, at least at the start, there is no sense of community at all. And nobody who can afford a crane on their own would life there. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Apr 1, 2017 at 9:04

There is always a logic to how towns are organized. Oftentimes the logic is mostly convenience or inertia. If there are existing stacks of shipping containers for instance people are probably going to rig up walkways for easy access. Once human traffic has work a path, other people are probably going to build alongside instead of disrupting the flow of traffic.

Shantytowns tend to occur where there is a lack of a conventional authority. Without that building codes go out the window. Houses will be built cheaply out of whatever is available. People still have needs and ideas of personal property. Once I've built my house I'm going to be righteously pissed if you want to plop a shipping container on top of it.

There tends not to be a centralized governmental authority, and if there is it's probably looking the other way. There may be enterprising individuals who own property and lease it to whomever is willing to pay. The odds are high that organized crime is also involved.


As AlexP mentioned containers have a standard height: 8.5 feet tall.

Containers also have a standard width (8 foot) so they can be placed on wheel chassis for towing and to make stacking on ships easier. There are different lengths but most of them are 40 foot long. Again, for easier stacking. Here is the ISO Standards page for shipping containers.

Places like China find it cheaper to make new containers than to have them shipped back. So, places with a lot of imports tend to build up containers.

Here's an article by someone who doesn't like the idea of shipping container housing. There are some useful tidbits like:

Structure. You’ve seen the proposals with cantilevers everywhere. Containers stacked like Lego building blocks, or with one layer perpendicular to the next. Architects love stuff like this, just like they throw around usually misleading/meaningless phrases like “kit of parts.” Guess what- the second you don’t stack the containers on their corners, the structure that is built into the containers needs to be duplicated with heavy steel reinforcing. The rails at the top and the roof of the container are not structural at all (the roof of a container is light gauge steel, and will dent easily if you step on it). If you cut openings in the container walls, the entire structure starts to deflect and needs to be reinforced because the corrugated sides act like the flange of beam and once big pieces are removed, the beam stops working. All of this steel reinforcing is very expensive, and it’s the only way you can build a “double-wide.”

He also has some links in there. The good news is that you can stack them 9 high.

As far as the social issues, it really depends on what kind of city it is. If the government didn't build it then I'd say that an importer either set up the structure or sold the container to whoever set up the structure. Unlike a shanty town like the one around Mexico City that it built out of found goods by the residents, containers need a truck and a crane to place them. So, someone has to expend resources to build it. They will want to receive some kind of benefit.

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    $\begingroup$ This is great info, thank you. Good to know I should not get "cute" with my storage containers – no rounded corners or hexagonal tubes to make them gratuitously futuristic. $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ The argument about having to reinforce the walls when you make a window can be made of any building. That's one of the things architects deal with day to day. To them it's still a kit of parts, a stack of prefab concrete and a pile of steel beams is their normal kit of parts, a bit of extra reinforcement is nothing. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Mar 31, 2017 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ The inhabitants of a shantytown who are reusing scrap/abandoned/donated containers won't be employing architects though. $\endgroup$
    – armb
    Mar 31, 2017 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix, yeah, but the sole advantage of using containers for housing is having a prefab structure that doesn't need that kind of construction work. Once you start doing that, you might as well build traditional buildings, which have many advantages over containers. The linked article is very good on this stuff. $\endgroup$
    – user16107
    Mar 31, 2017 at 14:32

Like another answer, this is kind of a comment but not necessarily a full answer

In Shantytowns, they usually happen organically. They are usually built out of whatever is readily available, and there is not a lot of attention paid to planning.

When you bring in cargo containers, you might run into a few problems. Inter modal containers are HEAVY. You would need a method of dragging one out to the site, and that would require a fairly large truck, at the least. The truck would need room to maneuver in order to place the container. That's the first problem, but that's not insurmountable. I worked at a place that made frequent use of these containers, and the delivery truck would pull in, jack the bed up and slide the container gently off onto the ground, lengthwise. This could work for a shanty town that is only one level high.

The next problem is that you need serious heavy equipment to stack the containers. The kind of forklift needed to lift these things is enormous. Not only do you need a huge forklift, the ground needs to be stable enough to support the weight of the forklift. Finally, if you don't have a forklift, you would need a crane. Again, this is non-trivial infrastructure that would not likely be in a shanty-town.

Finally, in the example picture, the containers are not neatly stacked. The problem there is that the containers strength is primarily on the corners and along the edges. Yeah, you can stack them several high, but you have to be pretty precise. Also, cutouts for doors and windows weakens the structure, so the random looking stack would be impractical.

I would suspect that the social organization of the shanty town would be fairly chaotic. Overall leadership would likely be in the hands of organized crime. This, in your case, might actually be beneficial. A Mob Boss might have the incentive to expand the shanty town, as more people mean more customers and more power. A Mob Boss might gain control of a construction or shipping company, for money laundering, making access to the necessary heavy equipment possible. At this point, the growth of your shanty town would be organized for the Mob Boss's convenience.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. This is potentially an opposite dynamic to the one Mormacil described. Large pieces can still be rearranged, or added later. Keeping the shanty in political chaos makes the area easier to control, and develop as desired. It's chicken-and-egg at that point which came first. $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 31, 2017 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ I'm put in mind of maybe an abandoned shipping yard as the base. Maybe it became impractical for ships to dock there, or the port city lost prominence for whatever reason. There would likely be several dozen containers laying around, and at least some of the infrastructure, though stripped down, might still be around. Squatters and the homeless begin to populate the containers. It grows from there. Mob Boss realizes that a transient population would make the location ideal for moving illegal products. Heavy equipment would come in as Mob Boss uses it as a public service front. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Mar 31, 2017 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ With an organized crime background, political chaos would not be desired. Control over local politics, sure, but Chaos is bad for business. If you want a group of thugs in control, Chaos would be a good thing. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Mar 31, 2017 at 22:07

All previous answers are very real-world-inspired, but I notice that you did not add the "hard-science" tag.

Let me encourage you to do your own thing here. I see a large, sprawling, chaotic, convoluted mess of living cubicles. Loads of small stairs, ladders, ropes, swings and so on. Roof-tops which lend themselves for wild hunts, Matrix/James Bond style. Little surprisingly calm inner courtyards with maybe even a tree or two. Wild communications and electric poles with lines going wherever the residents needed them. Children who have grown up in there and know every single corner, getting out of danger in the blink of an eye. A deep sociological-political structure. And so on. You can and should answer your questions yourself (just pick an answer if you cannot decide)... all alternatives you listed seem possible and plausible to me.

The book Ready Player One features a shanty town exactly like what you're asking for; it's a good read even if the chapter on that town is rather limited in length.

  • $\begingroup$ Good book. I was going to recommend that chapter as a starting point as well. $\endgroup$
    – amflare
    Mar 31, 2017 at 16:22

I started to write this in response to this comment, but it got too long, so I am doing a quasi answer instead...

You made a comment about not changing the shapes or composition of your containers too much. I wanted to point out that you should not bind yourself too closely to the idea that your futuristic shipping containers will share significant traits with the ones we currently use.

Keep in mind that our current containers are built the way they are as a result of their primary purpose. They are a certain width because we need them to fit on trucks and rail cars. They are built to stack on each other because it makes them more effective for ocean shipments. Their walls and roof are made from comparatively light weight materials because their primary purpose is to keep things contained and sheltered from the elements.

By comparison the containers used in air shipping are very different both in terms of shape and material. They are designed with odd shapes in order to better fit the curvature of the air frame. They do not have the reinforced corners for stacking because they never get stacked that way. Many of them do not even have solid closures, using canvas or nets to keep things contained, because they are rarely if ever exposed to the elements.

If the containers from your story are primarily left over from space shipping they are going to have even more differences. Here are just some of the questions that could significantly influence the design considerations of such containers.

Did the goods needing to be shipped need to be protected from vacuum? Were they loaded inside a ship? Or just strapped onto an interplanetary/interstellar "tugboat"? Are they still made from current day materials? Or was a cheaper/stronger composite developed? What types of forces do they have to withstand? Acceleration? Gravity? Radiation? How do they renter atmosphere and land? Do they just cut them loose and let them fall with a chute or bounce system to reduce impact? Or are they brought in under power? Assuming improved materials science, how well do they stand up to weather and steady gravity?

Keep in mind that any feature that increases the complexity or cost of the container greatly reduces the potential for them to be left lying empty for people to repurpose in this way. Also the cost of transporting mass out of a gravity well and across interplanetary/interstellar distances should be considered as well. Every gram of container material needed is one less gram of paying freight we can carry.

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    $\begingroup$ These are all significant things to consider, and I have been struggling with a general question of WHAT get's transported across space that presumably could not be manufactured or mined cheaper within a system…. However some of your ideas give me good ideas. Rather than a giant container with "Space Freight" written on the side, useable parts might be a reinforced frame, or a thin material that blocks radiation… I also have a recently-built harbor that was probably sent in large prefab parts since it's beyond local industry. This could be a source of materials sent one-way. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 31, 2017 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ It is a common theme in scifi that new colonies import a lot more than they export. Of course the flip side to this is how do they afford the imports? Unless they are a source of some exotic substance that is extremely valuable, whomever is funding the colony is looking at several decades to a few centuries before they start seeing any kind of return on the investment, and they tend to be a risk venture to start with, there are many ways for them to fail. Point being that a new colony is likely to get a certain "get established" package, then little else until they have something to send back. $\endgroup$
    – Rozwel
    Mar 31, 2017 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ Side note, if it fits your world better, consider making the containers locally produced ones for moving surface freight. With such a change, they could potentially be very much like the ones we have currently. $\endgroup$
    – Rozwel
    Mar 31, 2017 at 18:27

Assuming your alien containers are similar to earth containers and built out of the same kind of design principles you have a few constraints. Storage containers have attachment points at the corners where they can be linked, this means they will be jointed at mostly 0 or 90 degree angles, lengths vary but are still standardized so you may be able to create empty spaces by varying length or attaching at 90 degrees. The more space is limited the more encouragement there will be to join all the containers together and not waste space scattering them around.

There are a wide variety of doors in containers and many specialty containers designed to ship special goods, such as liquids, animals, or pipe, this plus of course broken or modified containers give your people many options. There is also a wide selection of roof extensions, wheels, ladders and other attachments available, some of which sould easily make it into your shanty town. Maybe a few liquid tanks have been turned into rain catches, or a half buried insulated container has been turned into a kind of root cellar. Shipyards are also on the coast so maybe the town is built on the tidal flats and the lowest level actually gets submerged. Maybe the shanty town grew around a huge cargo barge that ran aground during a storm, The cargo and containers were abandoned becasue it was too much trouble to retrieve, this would draw a shanty town quite quickly just for the supplies.

Of course you have whatever might have been the contents of the containers, Shipyards often have unclaimed but full containers. Maybe one was nothing but Yellow mylar tarps so they are all over the town leading it to be called yellowtown, or one was full of children's building blocks so the locals have many things made of these blocks. The possibilities are endless. Maybe that's how they got the ability to move the containers, one of them had an electric forklift/hoverlift inside and they were able to use and keep running through jury rigging for many years.

there is also quite a lot of shipping container architecture already out there you can draw inspiration from. And of course actually shipping container shanty towns do exist in places like Pudong.


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