A Corrugated Conundrum: The challenges of fabricating a temporary Container Based Activation

Black Shipping Container Building

A Corrugated Conundrum: The challenges of fabricating a temporary Container Based Activation

As much as we wish, building real-life structures is a far cry away from lincoln logs and legos. In fact, building temporary complex and custom structures tend to be even more difficult than building permanent ones… even when it comes to modular container-based activations.

In our last article, we talked about our latest and greatest Container Based Activation:  The Brass Knuckles Speak Easy. This article is going dive deep into the challenges we faced during the ideation and construction phase of this huge project.


A Corrugated Conundrum


Now, as you may or may not know Shipping Containers come in two sizes, 20ft and 40ft long. Since Brass Knuckles had a 40 x 60-foot area to play with for their booth, we decided an array of 40ft shipping containers would be the ideal fit. And even though we just said how fabricating structures of this scale isn’t as easy as building lincoln logs… well the way they are stacked is very similar. Much like a popsicle stick house, the bottom floor lays perpendicular to the one above it. This provides structural strength through the displacement of weight evenly along the bottom containers.


Welding Shipping Container


If you can tell by the lack of story arc so far… There is one BIG problem that I am leaving out… Shipping containers are easily stacked… IF their structural integrity is uncompromised. The thing is, we were ripping out almost every side wall in order to create spacious interiors on each floor.

Still having trouble understanding the problem here? It all lies within tensile strength.  Think of a Pepsi can (or your preferred brand). Trying to crush a Pepsi can from the top is a lot harder than putting it on its side and squeezing it. This is because the Pepsi can has a lot of tensile strength but virtually no shear strength. By removing the side walls from each shipping container, we were completely removing the containers shear strength. If we would have left them like this, they would have surely bowed if not broke under the stress.


Welding 2


Luckily our wonderful team factored this into our technical build drawings before the project even began. To combat this and add strength back to each container, we added reinforced steel columns in strategic positions along the edges of each container to guarantee a safe and secure structure.

This was just one of the many challenges we faced during the construction of this custom Container Based Activation. As those of you in this business know… there is no such thing as a project without hiccups. But these challenges and how we solve them is what sets Acme apart from the rest!




Look forward to more articles from us as we continue to ramp up the amount of content we put out! For those of you who are new to Acme, we build everything from large custom props, experiential marketing activations, custom trade show exhibits, and much more!

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Want to see more pictures of the Speak Easy? Look no further! Click Here