The red store with the cat insignia that rose up in Fan Pier in 2009 may altogether be novel in the world of retail. Puma, a world-famous brand of sporting goods, has built Puma City shipping containers retail store made of 24 refurbished freight containers stacked three-stories high. The containers were not just put together like corrugated steel boxes stacked on top of one another but they were actually constructed creatively so that the interior retail store looks spacious and airy, not suffocating and stifling like it would be under normal circumstances.
Inside the Puma City shipping containers retail store can be found not only shops for Puma footwear, apparel and official merchandise but also offices and changing rooms for the crews participating in the nine-month yacht race around the globe, of which Puma was one of the many sponsors. At each stop in the world tour, sponsors set up temporary buildings for this race. Puma decided to set up theirs in this manner due in most part to the visionary leaders behind the respected brand name. Puma also needed to set up retail and event space that can be moved from one city to another, and shipping containers –true to their nature – looked appropriate to their needs.
More than just a place to get Puma apparel, the Puma City shipping containers retail store was also a place of nightly events and social gathering. It served more than just its original purpose as retail space and living quarters for the crew.
Puma admitted it required significant resource outlay on their part to pull off a project as big as the Puma City shipping containers retail store. After all, each shipping container weighs at least 11 tons, and moving 24 of these containers necessitated planning on a large scale. Additionally, transforming all 24 steel boxes into one fluid interior space required architectural planning that has never been attempted before. Shoppers who have gone inside the retail store felt they were not in 24 individual boxes but in an event and retail space not unlike traditional shopping complexes. For this achievement, Puma’s novel and ambitious retail space has earned recognition from mainstream media and attracted significant attention from the local population.
Importantly, Puma City shipping containers retail store earned admiration from prominent architects and environmentalists who push for greener building designs. Nothing can be more challenging than repurposing decommissioned shipping containers and transforming them into useful properties after their original usage has been deemed obsolete. There is an element of art into “cargotecture”, and more important, in light of the world’s problems with the (mis)management of post-consumer items, there is something to look forward to in the global effort to reduce waste and creatively recycle them.