90 Rainey Street, Austin, TX
Designer: Dunlap ATX, North Arrow Studio
Built completely out of shipping containers, Container Bar was conceived by business mogul Bridget Dunlap in 2011. The design began as a collaboration between Dunlap, designer Jay Knowles, and mutual friend Jeff Poss, whose temporary art project, stacked studios, employed a similar structure to Container Bar’s final form. After permit acquisition, Knowles stepped back and Francisco Arredondo of North Arrow Studio carried the project to completion.
Eight shipping containers come together to form two levels: a courtyard, a bar, sitting areas, and an indoor/outdoor flow between all three to facilitate quicker bar service. The flow, explains Knowles, is as business savvy as it is aesthetically functional. “It wasn’t as much about what you can do inside the container,” he said, but rather, how you arrange them to create space.
The design stacks and overlaps the shipping containers to form inside and outside spaces that are whimsical, while maintaining a tight functionality. The design team balanced the roughness of the industrial materials with quirky decor. Bold, solid exterior colors give way to eclectic interior compositional choices, such as mosaic tile, recycled wood, wallpaper, and paper collage. The diverse use of materials creates distinct zones throughout the establishment—a “more is more” approach to breaking apart the orthogonal rigidity of the relatively small space.