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King County wants you to camp out in a cargo shipping container

Imagine you’ve spent the day hiking trails in the woods and roasting s’mores. Now imagine you’ve left your tent at home, only to take shelter in a cargo shipping container. That’s the challenge King County Parks hoped would inspire designers to blend the outdoor experience with eco-friendly containers. 

Sujata Goel, a program analyst with King County Parks, still remembers the feeling she had the day the contest entries landed in her office.

“I felt like it was Christmas morning," she said. "I had all these lovely shipping boxes and stacks of designs and I was so excited, I grabbed a pair of scissors and started ripping the boxes open and laying out the designs on my cubicle floor, and all my other cubiclemates kept walking over and look at that one, look at this.”

King County created the contest to design an overnight camping structure, similar to a yert, by repurposing shipping containers. The idea is to create something that is easy to build, easy on the environment and fun for people to use. Designs came from as far as Japan and the Ukraine.

Inspiring camping

Goel says a long term goal is to provide more opportunities for people to camp closer to home.

“A lot of this is also accessibility for multi-generations. As the county ages, as we see the rise of single family households, you know everybody wants to go out and enjoy nature and this is an easy, first step into hopefully a life-long appreciation of the woods, and nature and getting outside.”

And while you might be close to home, you won’t necessarily guess you’re in a cargo container. Designers used a lot of imagination to bring the outside in, creating windows and decks, and transforming the exterior with beautiful mosaic art. Not to mention practicalities like soy-based insulation.

The contest winner will be announced in September and the first cabin will be at a park near Carnation next summer. All you’ll need is a blanket.

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