Couple Turns Upcycled Shipping Containers Into Luxury Swimming Pools

Shipping containers may be the latest fad in small-space living. But the most ingenious use of them yet may have just arrived: as eco-conscious, solar-powered swimming pools.


May 24 2019, Updated 8:01 a.m. ET

Shipping containers may be the latest fad in small-space living. But the most ingenious use of them yet may have just arrived—as swimming pools. Modpools, a patent-pending, husband-and-wife startup, takes used steel containers, trims them down to size, and resells them as high-efficiency backyard pools that can move and modify as you do. Think of them as kiddie pools... for adults.

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A basic, 32’ x 16’ swimming pool will easily cost you an average of more than $22,000. But what if for a few bucks more, you could have a viewing window into the pool itself from its side, a hot tub, infinity pool option, and the ability to control the water temperature from your phone?

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Designer power couple Denise and Paul Rathnam of Abbotsford, British Columbia, launched Modpools earlier this year at a Vancouver trade show. The concept is simple: turn shipping containers into swimming pools. More complex are the bells and whistles associated with the installations: a viewing window, hot tub compartment, interior bench seating, and more.

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All the shipping containers used by Modpools originated in China and were shipped to North America filled with cargo. That’s where the Rathnams step in, upcycling and repurposing the steel boxes as pools. The couple has experience working with shipping containers: For more than a decade, Gardenista reports, they have made off-grid labs and offices for the oil and gas industry throughout Canada. 

It was while vacationing in Palm Springs, Calif., that Denise and Paul came up with the idea for Modpools. “Most people don’t even use the deep end,” Paul told Gardenista. “So we decided to make our Modpools just 4 and a half feet deep—which means kids can splash around while adults stand up in them.” 

Then it was on to the containers. First, Denise and Paul go through all the shipping containers at their disposal to find the ones without any dents or signs of wear and tear. The roofs are removed, and walls are reduced to five feet high. That gives the container structural integrity when the water comes into play. 

Heavy-duty steel tubing is attached to the top rim of the soon-to-be pool, keeping the walls sturdy and holding everything in place. The couple worked with a nearby company to figure out what to do for a pool liner, settling on a rubber lining similar to what is used in oil tanks

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Every pool comes with a partition made from clear polyethylene that can be removed to turn the entire container into a swimming pool, or kept in to create a separate hot tub area. All Modpools come standard with eight jets—but you can add more if you want an infinity pool experience.  

Oh—and here’s another perk you won’t get with a standard swimming pool: Every Modpool comes complete with a heating system (controllable by smart phone), pump, and filtration system. And yes, all these things can be powered by solar, if you so choose. 

Perhaps the coolest part, these pools are 100 percent transportable (they are shipping containers, after all). So while you may only get a few years use out of your backyard pool, the Modpool can move with you. Making it a lifetime—and smart, eco-friendly—investment.    


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