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24th Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

CIT – 7 Worthwhile Applications for Flat Pack Containers

The idea of containers being used as an instant space-saving solution is not new, with shipping containers being used for everything from student apartment blocks to solving the housing crisis, to high end luxury modular micro-dwellings for millennials looking to affordably build their first homes.

Yet up until now, the potential uses of containers has been limited due to site access and the difficulty of getting standard shapes onto, and importantly off of, vastly different sites. Unfortunately, this often resulted in containers not being a viable option for the institutions and businesses that could benefit from them the most, such as semi-permanent clinics and remote building sites.

That is set to change, however, as the Flat-pack container unit enters the market. This model, which is as versatile as its traditional predecessors, looks to be the next innovation in the market as its ability to fold flat promises to provide a pop-up space for sites with more challenging access.

“The potential for these new types of containers is really up to the imagination of the client,” says Kashief Schroeder – the owner and co-founder of Container Intermodal Trading CC (CIT), “But some popular uses we have seen in the past include on-site offices, mobile hospitals, classrooms on government land where permanent structures are against regulations, boardrooms, and even temporary sleeping quarters for migrant or contract workers.”

Mobile Clinics

Due to their ability to be “nested”, these containers can be transported practically anywhere with less cost than ever before. They can be easily assembled on-site, and then deconstructed for transportation. Because they can be placed on a normal flatbed trailer you can transport up to 4 “nested” flat pack containers on a single 6m flatbed trailer perfectly.

The increased number of units that can be transported in one go is directly tied to the cost as it means you don’t need to hire multiple vehicles with multiple fuel costs and multiple drivers, meaning your transport cost between sites is potentially cut
by 75%.

For governments and medical NGO’s, this new technology could be a huge jump forward in providing health care services. There is great potential to put up mobile clinics in areas that were considered to have been too remote or inaccessible by large vehicles. Ultimately, meaning that the people that need medical attention the most receive the health care their communities need to battle the wide range of adversities they face.

Ready to go additional classrooms

Manufactured using insulated flame retardant sandwich polystyrene panels, these containers require no further modifications once on site to make them comfortable in our hot African summers and frigid winters.

This means that the overall assembly timeline is kept brief as there are fewer variables that are out of your control such as the weather. The risk of working at heights is eliminated and they come ready to assemble, reducing on-site work, and every piece fits together with millimetre precision thanks to being manufactured in a controlled factory environment. All of this saves you headaches such as prolonged road-closures, noise complaints and unforeseen labour costs.

Social distancing has meant that there is a significantly increasing demand for more space in which children can attend school safely. These containers provide schools with an instant solution in which their pupils will be warm and safe while they focus on learning how to make the world a better place.

Temporary sleeping quarters

Generally flat packs are between 20 and 30cm higher than general-purpose storage containers which allow for extra height furniture and fittings – such as floor to ceiling shelving – on office conversions or to store taller equipment without the labour of partially disassembling it. It also allows you to add additional flooring or ceiling without reducing the height to an uncomfortable dimension and helps to balance out the narrower shape of the unit.

Due to their increased height, in emergency situations, bunk beds are able to be set up – essentially doubling the amount of people who can get a night’s sleep in the same footprint as a traditional container.

Offices and boardrooms

These containers require some tools to assemble but provided you have them, and your team has some knowledge on how to assemble the container, and a forklift or crane to lift and fix the roof in place they can be installed almost anywhere in less than 6 hours. And, if you don’t have the necessary skills you can get a professional for your logistical support.

For those looking to have peaceful refuse in which to concentrate on site for a meeting these containers provide a perfect mobile solution that is easily deconstructed and transported – making it ideal for building sites and developments.
Vacation homes

For those looking to invest in a more flexible solution without the commitment of immobility, these flat packs can be built to order to your specifications making them a more flexible solution. Also to consider should you require something more short term would be renting from standard size and types of containers .  

Due to Flat pack containers being so easy to move – they provide an innovative alternative as semi-permanent vacation homes. Once you are done, you can simply deconstruct the container and move on without the worry of having to purchase a new home or sell an old one.

Pop up space

One of the fundamental benefits of the traditional shipping container is its durability. And despite being more flexible – flatbeds retain this characteristic. When they are being constructed the bare metal, sheeting is shot blasted to remove foreign particles, then a zinc-rich primer is applied, and finally, 2 coats of topcoat paint are applied to ensure that the finish is suitable for most weather types and that the product is rust-resistant in the long term.

The locking mechanisms on these containers are also no less secure than those of traditional containers – ensuring that no unwelcome visitors will be able to enter your office or get their hands on any tools for as long or short of a time as needed.

For those looking to start a small business, such as a clothing store or hair salon, they provide the opportunity to set up a comfortable workspace quickly and easily where they could still store all their equipment securely.

If you are interested, getting your hands on one couldn’t be easier as Schroeder concludes, “after offering new and pre-owned containers for sale or rental in Southern Africa over the last 14 years. Our knowledge of the industry stretches over many years and we have been able to provide sound advice and recommendations to business owners and individuals that are looking for the best container solutions for a given space.”

If you would like more information on renting a flat pack container visit

Kashief Schroeder – Owner Container Intermodal Trading CC (CIT)

Kashief Schroeder – the owner of Container Intermodal Trading CC (CIT) established in June 2007 – aims to provide award winning all-round containerisation service to South Africa, Namibia and beyond.

Born in Grassy Park, Cape Town, from German and a Malay descent, Schroeder describes himself as “just a plain ordinary guy” and the “guy next door” type. As an entrepreneur, Schroeder says that what he enjoys most about it is the fact that he can shape his own destiny but is quick to point out that there are days as well where he feels like breaking rocks with his bare hands, as entrepreneurship can indeed be a huge challenge.

Prior to establishing CIT Intermodal, his work experience stretches from working for Rennies Ships Agency, Japan Marine Supplies and Services, Charts International, Refrigerated Freight Lines (Pty) Ltd. to Container Gateway to Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Schroeder says that highlights for CIT Intermodal include walking away with top honours at the ECIC/Cape Chamber of Commerce Western Cape Exporter of the Year Competition in the “Non-Engineering / Manufacturing Company” category, as well as being awarded the Southern Africa agency contract for an international container leasing company called Blue Sky Intermodal (UK) Ltd.

He lives with his wife and children who he says loves him to bits – emphasising “seriously, they do!” He is also an avid music lover and apart from listening to some good tunes, enjoys playing the guitar, banjo bass guitar when he has some free time. Travelling is another major passion of his.

About CIT Intermodal

Container Intermodal Trading CC trading as CIT Intermodal was established in June 2007 with the express aim to provide a better all-round containerisation service. By providing containers at the best competitive and market related prices without compromising quality or service, they maintain unprecedented customer satisfaction. The CIT Intermodal management team have amassed a number of years in the container and intermodal industry.
From March 2010 to December 2015 they were appointed the Southern African region sales and leasing agents for Waterfront Container Leasing Co., Inc. As from May 2016 they are now the agent for Blue Sky Intermodal (UK) Ltd, an international marine container and intermodal leasing company providing containers and related equipment on operating and finance leases to the container industry.


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