Home news Meet the Cornwall company turning shipping containers into homes for homeless with...

Meet the Cornwall company turning shipping containers into homes for homeless with a plan for a pop-up World Cup stadium


A company which recycles shipping containers and converts them into trendy office spaces, pop-up bars, open air cinemas is looking to create social housing for homeless families and even a pop-up stadium for the Qatar World Cup.
ISO Spaces has been finding new uses for shipping containers since it was founded by former stockbrokers Ben Treleaven and Gregg Curtis in 2013.
It now counts Nissan, the BBC and Tesco among its high-profile clients and was recently named as one of the fastest-growing firms in the UK.
The modular buildings designer based in Truro is now looking to grow further by creating ‘permanent portable’ homes for local authorities.

The temporary homeless accommodation created in Marston Court, London, by ISO Spaces, from Truro (Image: ISO Spaces)
Mr Treleaven said: “There is a massive housing crisis in this country. Homelessness is a real issue. Councils up and down the country have land which is sitting empty sometimes for years until they put homes on them.
“We can turn a site round very quickly by creating permanent but portable houses. It’s not just about cost for councils but it means they can literally lift houses off a site to move them somewhere else in no time at all.”
ISO Spaces was recently named in the The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing sales over their latest three years.
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The list is compiled by Fast Track and published in The Sunday Times each December.
The young company grew sales to £2.5 million this year, driven by local authority demand for temporary housing to tackle a national shortage in council accommodation.

Coffi Co container conversion from Truro based ISO Spaces (Image: ISO Spaces)
Growth has been boosted by a contract with a local authority to provide social housing units for homeless families.
ISO Spaces recently delivered 88 social housing units to Ealing Borough Council.
After delivering 34 units in 2016, awards-winning ISO Spaces was asked to provide more converted one, two and three-bedroom containers to provide emergency relocation for homeless people.
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Mr Treleaven, co-founder and managing director of ISO Spaces, said: “The number of homeless people and families in the area was growing and the council found they were having to relocate up to 130 families a week.
“They wanted to provide a quick, high-quality solution to enable those families to stay in the area, as well as be more cost effective than using B&Bs.
“The containers that we design and build in Cornwall will be used to provide an interim housing solution on a brownfield site while the council develop additional social housing.”

The temporary homeless accommodation created in Marston Court, London, by ISO Spaces, from Truro
Mr Treleaven said ISO Spaces just completed a 144-unit housing scheme for a local authority and was ready to sign off on another for 216.
He added: “It’s definitely a growing area for us. We are getting a lot of interest from councils up and down the country. We’re still doing pop-up cafe, bars.
“We have a racing structure going to Le Mans soon and we’re in consultation to see if we can be part of the project to build a 45,000-seater stadium built out of containers for the Qatar World Cup in 2022. But most of the work we do now is increasingly with local authorities.”
In order to fulfil the contract, ISO Spaces invested in casters to allow the containers to be moved easily around the company’s factory in Par.
Anna Staevska, BIG2 programmer manager from BIG Help for Homeless People, said: “The work that ISO Spaces showcases Cornish ingenuity and innovation to the rest of the world.”
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BIG2 is delivered by Cornwall Development Company and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Earlier this year Mr Treleaven won Microentrepreneur for Growth in the Microentrepreneurship Awards held in Cardiff.
The business, which was last year named the best business start-up in Cornwall, is also hoping to grow into volume markets including hotels and more affordable housing scheme, which could see demand for a high volume of units in the next 12 months.
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To achieve such growth ISO Spaces is understood to be looking at a merger with sister company CargoTek, which, alongside investment in a new manufacturing site possibly in Devon, could help the business scale up production from 100 units a year to 500 in 2018 with sales also expected to reach £10.5 million.
ISO Spaces is also working on a chain of pop-up coffee shops which could yield further orders and on the new Boxpark in Croydon, a pop-up shopping mall made from shipping containers.

BIG Help for Homeless People – BIG2 programmer manager, Anna Staevska, with ISO Spaces founder, Ben Treleaven. The shipping container conversion firm received funding to deliver a project to help homeless families
ISO Spaces is currently designing a prototype hotel room which, if successful, could result in an order for many more.
It is also pioneering a new approach to affordable housing, with the potential to build a number of sustainable flats for a metropolitan local authority.
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In anticipation of more orders, the business converted a 20,000 sq ft unit at St Blazey near St Austell into a bespoke container factory with a further 5,000 sq ft of space outside.
Source: Cornwall Live