Like many curious children, Paul Rathnam’s kids love to play with cardboard boxes, building creative structures out of the empty packaging. Rathnam sees a parallel between their recreation and what he does for a living: converting shipping containers into swimming pools. “They’re basically the world’s cardboard boxes,” he says. “They take all of our cargo around the world, safely. And, they’re reusable.”
Since 2017, Vancouver-based Rathnam has been transforming shipping containers into backyard pools across Canada and the U.S. It’s a way to reuse containers that are often transported overseas just once and then go to waste—while at the same time providing comfort for home-bound families who may be using their backyards more often during the pandemic. The portable pools are relatively easy and efficient to build and install, and can be modified with some luxurious features.
The idea began after a few trips to Palm Springs, California, the Rathnam family’s favored vacation spot. “We’d always tick the box of having a pool,” he says. “I thought, Here we are going on vacation to experience something we could probably have at home.” At that time, Rathnam, who’d been in the building and renovating profession for many years, was already converting shipping containers into usable spaces, primarily office units. But that business, ModPro, mainly consisted of one-off conversions. It wasn’t sustainable without a more specific product.