Building Blocks

Cut Foam Letters and Hand Painting

Containerville offers flexible office leasing to small businesses and startup companies in the form of upcycled shipping containers, with 45 of them arranged across three floors overlooking the Regent’s Canal, just a totter from Broadway Market.

The client, Shraga, approached us to ask if we could help during the repurposing of each unit, and then later with an idea to make Containerville a more visible landmark in this urbanised part of the East London area.

Our wayfinding strategy was led by a desire to remain sensitive to the setting; a mix of ink black metal, glasswork and greenery.

Organised around an inner courtyard of wooden decking, these unique offices each come tucked inside a set of big swinging iron doors, revealing unexpectedly modern interiors behind them.

To reinforce that rustic camouflage, we produced vinyl stencils to paint the respective container numbers in black onto both sides of each of the external doors with a hardy weatherproof paint. This complemented  the splashes of bright, bold, almost neon colours of the doors to inject life into a habitat dominated by the darkness of natural and foraged materials.

Behind the container’s shell lie full length sliding window panels, which line up together to provide profound impact on the side of the development that overlooks the canal, creating panoramic reflections of a cloudy sky scape and scintillating waterside environment. Going with the flow of glossiness, we decided subtle vinyl numbering would work well on the glass panels and leave the view as uninterrupted as possible. The effect is a space that blends in with, rather than unbalances, its surroundings.

Next was the mammoth task of fabricating extra large 3D outdoor letters, spelling out ‘Containerville’, to fit to the top of the containers. The letters had to be lightweight as each was nearly 1500mm high with a thickness of 250mm, purpose made to create impact.

As these 3D outdoor letters would sit among the rooftops of Bethnal Green, there’s no doubt they’d be exposed to the elements and tested to the limit. The challenge was that they had to last and they had to be secured to the top of the container safely, so we set to work on a collaborative solution that would solve the problem.

We had made similar light weight letters many times before but with longevity in mind, we decided this time to cut the letters out of expanded polystyrene using a hot wire CNC system. The letter shapes were then coated to create a hard shell that gave added strength to the polystyrene.

Continuing with the industrial look and feel, the client had the idea of fixing the sign with a tensioned metal cable, so three holes were drilled through the sides of each letter and tubing was inserted to help run the wiring through. The letters were spaced apart by clipping fixings into place, and finally painted. The returns of the letters were painted black and the faces yellow, ensuring happy vibes were sent across the neighbourhood.