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Modified Shipping Container - Outdoor Dining

The attached design utilizes the easily transported shipping container as a module to house modifiable dining spaces.

Photo of Matthew Maloney
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The attached design submission contains a brief overview of the design, as well as multiple different drawings, including sketches and digital model renderings of the modified container design ideas.

Idea Title

Modified Shipping Container - Outdoor Dining

Company / organization name (if applicable)

JMO Modular

Please include a visual representation of your concept, including but not limited to images, diagrams, or 2D / 3D graphics

Concept drawing of modified shipping container for curbside dining.

Solution Overview

Chicago’s current restaurant business climate is struggling to find ways to stay alive during a pandemic.  With an ever-changing environment, including the weather, we will need to find ways to support our neighborhood restaurants to be able to live as close to normal as possible. The design characteristics of any permanent or temporary structure will need to be able to sustain Chicago’s harsh weather conditions and be sustainable as they change while also giving the user the ability to allow parties to social distance and be safe in an eating environment.  Our overview will show how and why a shipping container can fulfill many of the needs for this use.


The use of shipping containers provides the city of Chicago and its stakeholders to easily scale this idea.  While containers can be an unsightly addition to a city, used correctly, they can also be a pleasant addition, even if temporary.  The exterior and interior of a container can be used for permanent or temporary decoration, and in the event of vandalism, can be either covered or painted over quickly.  A container can be quickly manipulated with walls, heaters, open areas, removable walls, lights, and ADA capabilities.  A container also provides a non-combustible arena for quick and easy use.

Technical Overview

The modification and use of containers can be designed and used in many different ways.  The containers come in various sizes 8x8, 8x10, 8x20, 8x40, and occasionally 8x30.  These sizes allow for use in different areas depending on size and need.  The boxes can be setup in ways to create an outdoor area in a parking lot for security, or simply put in the parking spot of a car to create instant space.  The standardized nature of a container makes them easily attainable and plentiful in the USA.  The containers can also be easily leveled in the event of an unlevel surface.  Delivery is typically by truck and can be moved, pulled, or lifted into place depending on the area needed.


Containers are used to provide goods and services across all cultures and languages. The final use of the container by the bar/restaurant owner will determine how they decorate or setup the container for their own personal use. While some containers can be very expensive in the initial purchase, they can also be obtained very inexpensively. The manipulation and additions of heat, walls, decorations, and restaurant attire will determine the final cost.


Sketches showing plan, elevation, and perspectives of the modified shipping container design and its user considerations.

User Research

Images showing interior dining space occupied by patrons.

Covid-19 Safety

The design as shown, visualizes separate dining compartments that have impermeable barriers, both from other diners, as well as from the public, allowing for easy social distance compliance. The design allows for easy modification of the size of those compartments to allow for more or less capacity as guidelines change. Since the compartments are completely separate, each with their own entry door, each one can easily be closed off to allow for sanitation after a party leaves before it can be turned over to new customers.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Joe Helleny - Owner of JMO Modular, a company with over 30 years of experience providing mobile offices and modular design solutions to clients throughout the Midwest. Matthew Maloney - Project Manager of an architecture firm with 4 years of professional design experience.

Please describe your legal or organizational structure


In what city are you / your team located?

Herrin, IL

In what country are you / your team located?

United States of America

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)


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