Architect Y Tsai’s design of a container sports centre in Piketberg, about 120 km outside Cape Town,  is set to change the way we look at shipping containers.

Containers as spazas, hair salons, clinics and classrooms are a ubiquitous feature of South African cities.


Globally the edge they offer in cost, sustainability and speed of construction have been attracting the attention of designers. Here they’re still regarded as informal solutions, their makeovers traditionally taking the form of a lick of paint, off-the-shelf windows and doors and some interior insulation.

Tsai was commissioned to design the sports centre by SA shipping company Safmarine as part of their quest to enhance their community projects through design.

Issues of sustainability, including ventilation, maintenance and multi-functionalism were paramount design considerations.

To maximise its use, three elements make up the design. A grandstand provides spectator seating. The  sheltering roof shades the container while an air gap between the roof and the container allows cross ventilation and reduces heat buildup. The roof structure folds down to create a screen that can be used to show movies or be used as an advertising billboard.

The centre is home to the Stars in their Eyes programme which caters for over 100 children from the local Piketberg community who benefit from twinning with a Dutch football club that provides local coaches with football techniques and life skills.