The sight of shipping containers is not uncommon along the banks of the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne’s west.


The nearby Port of Melbourne is Australia’s busiest port for containerised cargo, handling millions of tonnes of cargo each year.


Towering stacks of rusted containers line the river, giving it the air of an industrial wasteland.

But just a short walk from the Maribyrnong, on a quiet, leafy street in Footscray, the local community centre has given several old shipping containers a new lease on life.


In its quest to promote community-based arts projects in a sustainable fashion, the Footscray Community Arts Centre has become something of a sanctuary for retired shipping containers.


The first thing visitors see when approaching the Centre is a brightly decorated converted shipping container plonked on the front lawn.

The colourful container is part of the Arts Centre’s PORTable Container Project, a collaboration with the Port of Melbourne Corporation.


Maribyrnong Council donated the six-metre shipping container to FCAC for use as a mobile arts studio, where local artists can engage with the community.

The portable atelier is equipped to accommodate exhibitions, performances and workshops.


Another two refurbished shipping containers are parked at the rear of the Centre, completing the fleet of PORTable studios.

A fourth shipping container – known as the Hip Hop Academy – sits at the edge of the Centre, overlooking the manicured gardens below.


Emblazoned with graffiti-style murals, this ‘container canvas’ is a popular youth arts initiative.


The idea of turning abandoned shipping containers from eyesores into arthouses is an ingenious upcycling solution.


With the recent expansion of the Port of Melbourne, a shipping container shortage is unlikely in the foreseeable future.