The Gulf, a new restaurant/bar overlooking the Perdido Bay inlet at Orange Beach, has a decidedly kicked-back look. Incorporated into its design are four steel shipping containers – used to make the whole place easy to move“Shipping containers have been trendy in the design community for about 10 years,” says architect Courtney Brett of Casburn Brett Architecture in Daphne. “But portability was the key factor here. This site has a master plan for a larger public/private boardwalk and permanent restaurant that hinges on a future renovated seawall, so this might or might not stay. But people like the improvised look. We call it a food truck on steroids,” she adds.
Contrary to expectations, there was no cost advantage to using containers. “If you modified them in a shop, there might be. But working on site took extraordinary craftsmanship by the welders having to make straight cuts while blocking the wind,”Brett says. One container holds the kitchen, a second was cut open for an open-air vestibule, a third for a combined walk-in cooler and open bar and a fourth for enclosed seating on a second level.
Brett points out two key aspects of working with containers: One, they can be hot – especially at the beach – so air-flow and reflective exterior finishes are essential. Two, you can’t treat them like a block of wood – the structure at the corners andedges must be maintained for strength.