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‘Containing’ Dublin’s empty spaces

‘Container Coffee’, created by Gordon Hickey, sits comfortably beside the Digital Hub with the Saint Patrick’s Tower as a backdrop to this bright blue coffee shop. It is unmissable to anybody passing through the Liberties.

The idea to have a coffee shop in a shipping container was inspired by Gordons work in television.

“I had been working on a tv show where we had a shipping container as a medical clinic and we just dropped it into place every day,” he said.

Container Coffee is an unique coffee shop located in an area that attracts customers from nearby offices and tourists thanks to its location in relation to the Guinness Storehouse.

The idea behind this unique coffee shop was to use some of the empty areas around the city.  

“I was cycling through [James’ street] one Saturday. This area beside the Digital Hub was completely empty,” Gordon said. “One of my reasons for putting it here was to utilise some of the unused space that’s lying around in Dublin.”

Gordon also uses this container to encourage smaller local businesses like his own.

“I want to stay away from big corporations,” Gordon said. “All of my suppliers are small independent businesses, my cakes are from an independent bakery on Capel street, I get my bread from Smithfield… our coffee, cloudpicker, is a small independent brewer.”

“I’m trying to support other small businesses because I know how hard it is,” he added.

When asked about his plans to expand, Gordon said: “I’d love to build the container brand, it is unique. People love it, they walk in and they’re like ‘oh my god this is amazing’ because it is different. I’d love to try and replicate it but it hasn’t been very easy.”

Gordon would like to continue to utilise unused spaces around the city. He has four different locations in mind, but bringing the idea to life has been difficult for him.

“There was one site in particular that I asked for, they told me they weren’t looking to lease it out. Its been sitting empty for twenty years, it’ll probably be sitting empty for another 20 years and I’ve been told that a couple of different times,” he said.

In relation to the container at the Digital Hub, Gordon said: “This space was never used before, now people are using it.”

“The Digital Hub were so good to me, they believed in my idea and believed that the space could be utilised properly.”

While its only one container selling coffee, it’s a unique way of tackling the issue with unused land around Dublin and hopefully Gordon and others will continue to find creative ways to use up the empty spaces in the city.

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