How an IT worker built a shipping container hotel in Singapore: photos Get Whole Detail

How an IT worker built a shipping container hotel in Singapore: photos
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Seah Liang Chiang has spent a decade working in IT. But after watching the Netflix series ‘Tiny House Nation’, Seah decided to make a career change. He set his sights on becoming a hotelier – specifically, building tiny hotels out of shipping containers.

Seah Liang Chiang builds his hotel for shipping containers.

Seah Liang Chiang builds his hotel for shipping containers.

Courtesy of Seah Liang Chiang

Seah and his wife Lorraine launched a hotel chain called Singapore Container Hotel, and in 2020, they opened their first hotel in an industrial enclave in central Singapore. They went on to open another hotel in Singapore’s famous Hell theme park. In both hotels, the living space is made up of a single shipping container.

But Seah still dreamed of something bigger: he wanted to build a luxury hotel out of four two-story shipping containers.

“I wanted to dispel the idea that recycling shipping containers is a cheap experience,” Seah told Insider.

This month, Seah launched its third hotel location, called Garden Pod, at Gardens by the Bay, a 101-hectare park overlooking the iconic Marina Bay Sands. The construction of the hotel took about two years.

Seah’s first step was to acquire shipping containers, which form the hotel’s main living space. Seah said he bought 10 containers from a container depot in western Singapore.

Transport containers.

Transport containers.

Courtesy of Seah Liang Chiang

The hotel was designed by local architecture firm Laud. In early 2020, Seah began building the hotel with a team of architects and engineers. He estimates he spent around 1 million Singapore dollars, or about $700,000, to build the complex.

Seah said the containers, which measure 2.4 meters or about 7.8 feet in length, cost around $8,000 each.

The hotel structure was built on site in Gardens by the Bay. The land was flattened and reinforced plates and steel bars were used to strengthen the earth so that it could withstand the weight of the containers.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Courtesy of Seah Liang Chiang

About 50 million people have visited the park in downtown Singapore since it opened in 2012. It is known for having the world’s largest glass greenhouse.

In order to operate the park hotel, Seah must pay rent to Gardens by the Bay. Seah declined to disclose the park’s rental costs.

A representative from Gardens by the Bay told Insider that commercial arrangements are determined by factors such as market rental rates and “the overall value offered to visitors.” The representative did not comment on how much it costs to rent the park.

“The Garden Pod is a pop-up hotel concept that Gardens by the Bay developed in conjunction with Shipping Container Hotel,” the representative said. “We are always open to new proposals from business partners to bring new and exciting experiences to our visitors.”

The interior of each loft is designed with a modern touch. Marble countertops and floor-to-ceiling windows create the illusion of a spacious living area.

The interior space is finished.

The interior space is finished.

Marielle Desculță/Insider

Each loft, measuring 70 square meters, has a large outdoor terrace, a bedroom with en-suite bathroom, a living area and a dining space.

A night’s stay is not cheap – it costs $600 to accommodate four guests.

Thiang Yong Chan, a guest who stayed at the hotel in September, said the loft was not the “typical small container” and matched more established hotels.

“Nice place for a short getaway,” Thiang wrote in a Google review. She added that one of the downsides of the hotel is the lack of privacy due to the tall glass windows.


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