Out-of-this-world design for Sydney Observatory


Out-of-this-world design
for Sydney Observatory



  • Main Structure: 20-foot shipping container
  • Finished Dimensions: 9.2m X 4.8m X 2.9m (excluding dome)
  • 2.6m extension built from scratch to house telescope
  • All other additions fully fabricated at Containers First Workshop
  • Sliding glass door and windows, with flyscreens
  • Plumbed room ready for upgrade to wet room
  • Kitchenette
  • All rooms fully insulated

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When an amateur astronomer decides to reach for the stars and build his own personal observatory about 50km north of Sydney, he chose Containers First’s shipping container modification team to design, fabricate and install the unique structure.

Starting with a standard 20-foot (6-metre) shipping container, Containers First added an elevated extension to house the telescope and dome, and fabricated many other modifications to create a spacious and comfortable observatory.

The star-gazing structure includes windows, dimmable lighting and a sliding glass door, a large workstation with cabinetry, a kitchenette, storage, interior access to the elevated motorised telescope room, and a wrap-around exterior deck complete with a rainwater gutter system and stylishly finished with bullnose roofing.

To house the precision optical equipment, the Containers First Workshop’s fabrication had to be equally precise for the hinged dome to rotate properly.

  • Full data cabling for telescope
  • Dimmer-controlled down lights throughout
  • Rolled angle to operate observatory dome
  • Squared round roofing for rainwater run-off
  • Interior mezzanine level access to telescope platform
  • Interior storage space
  • Full length veranda with staircase access
  • Lightweight roof truss design for transportability
  • Bull nose roofing and guttering fitted on-site
  • Main room floor carpeting

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Containers First also wired the observatory for electrical power and data, and
included a fully plumbed room ready for future use. The observatory is also
fully insulated from floor to ceiling to ensure comfort all year round.

While Containers First were content with the design and manufacture of
this amazing observatory their expertise was truly exposed when they
coordinated the delivery and installation of the observatory. Requiring custom
fabricated supports to perch the containers on the side of a hill, specialised
transport for the 40km journey to the site and lifting equipment all of which
needed to fit through a gap with only millimetres to spare. The installation
was precise, on time and under budget.

Our astronomer couldn’t be happier with the observatory and is counting
his lucky stars he chose Containers First and the “freedom” a modular
shipping container design provided him. Containers First is equally thrilled
with their first-ever observatory design/build and rates it as one of the Sydney
company’s stellar achievements in custom shipping container modifications

1300 556 991



Shipping container case study pdf download
Containers First-case study_observatory_v3.2

Tick The Box On Your Container Needs!
For more information or a quote, please contact us today:
Phone 1300 556 991 or email [email protected]
23-25 Gould Street | South Strathfield NSW 2136 n F: 02 9642 5008 n ABN: 68 002 196 385

Earthed Workshop with Intrinsically Safe Features


Earthed Workshop with
Intrinsically Safe Features



  • 1x40ft new build high cube with doors at both ends
  • Fully painted in white
  • Fully insulated with 50mm EPS sandwich panel
  • 2x Clear PVC Swing internal doors
  • 1x external fold out awning and work bench without compromising outside dimensions for transport requirements
  • 2x 1200 x 300 windows with fly screens
  • All steel roller table (8mts) 2x 3mts tables with copper tops for earthing
  • External door latches to contain doors when open
  • 1x recessed Split System Air Conditioner
  • 2x Personal Access door with counter sunk dead locks & emergency push bar exits

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Containers First Incorporates Intrinsically Safe (I.S.) Technology To Turn A Shipping Container Into A Specialised Mobile Workshop For Handling Explosive Materials

Containers First was recently tasked with fabricating a 40-foot portable workshop that makes handling highly volatile materials much safer.

The workshop was equipped with specific safety features designed to greatly reduce the risk of even the tiniest spark setting off an accidental explosion.

Many Intrinsically Safe (I.S.) features were incorporated into the workshop’s design to prevent the unit’s wiring, electrical equipment, or static electricity from inadvertently igniting any of the highly flammable Combustible substances inside.

Just some of the special safeguards Containers First installed for the workshop included:


  • Shielded conduits to encase all electrical cabling
  • I.S.-certified power points and light switches
  • Workbench tops covered with copper plating to discharge any build up of static electricity safely to the ground



  • 2x 250mm x 250mm earthed Brass plates at each Personal access door to remove static electricity from person/s entering workshop
  • Colourbond curved roof kit and fittings 12.6 x 2.6 mtr
  • Electrical fitout as specified, includes all earthing inside and out

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  • A copper touch plate at the workshop’s entrance to ground workers before entering the unit
  • Earth spikes with grounding cables connected to all interior metal components


Containers First is Australia’s experts at modifying standard cargo containers for a wide array of applications from field offices to first aid units.

If you need a portable environment for the storage or handling of hazardous materials, talk to Containers First. We can design and build a unit for handling dangerous substances that includes the latest safety features such as natural or mechanical ventilation, spillage containment, Intrinsically Safe features, and many other safeguards.

Our purpose-built storage units and modified workshops are ideally suited for industries that routinely work with flammable chemicals or explosives including:

  • Oil & Gas Refineries
  • Mining Operations
  • Demolition Crews
  • Construction Explosives
  • Chemical Manufacturers and Suppliers
  • Military Explosives – Mobile Explosive Manufacturing Unit (MEMU)
  • Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Manufacturers
  • Ammunition Filling and Assembly
  • Gun Maintenance & Repair
  • Firing Ranges
  • Disposal Sites
  • Fertiliser and Pesticides Suppliers
  • Explosives Depots/Magazines
  • Explosives R&D Facilities

To find out how our cost-effective container modifications can help you greatly reduce the risk and liability of handling dangerous explosives and highly- volatile chemicals in the field, contact Containers First today.


Shipping container case study pdf download
Containers First_case study_Earthed Workshop_v3.3

Tick The Box On Your Container Needs!
For more information or a quote, please contact us today:
Phone 1300 556 991 or email [email protected]
23-25 Gould Street | South Strathfield NSW 2136 n F: 02 9642 5008 n ABN: 68 002 196 385

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