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A Fabric Shelter – a dome-shaped steel structure covered with fabric tarp, mounted on top of a base or ‘substructure’ – can be mounted on a range of different supports, but the two most common are steel posts and shipping containers.

There is often confusion around which is the ‘best’ or more effective, but both serve different purposes and neither necessarily exceeds the other in a traditional sense. The choice will ultimately depend on the needs of each individual project.

The two are detailed and compared in the article below, to give a better understanding of why one might be preferred over the other.

Shipping Container Mounted

Container Mounted Fabric Structure

A DomeShelter™ Fabric Structure mounted on standard sea/shipping containers is also known as a Container Mounted DomeShelter™ Structure (CMDS). DomeShelter Australia is one of the original designers and manufacturers of this versatile Shelter solution.

Consistent Sizing

Shipping containers can be laid end to end and stacked two or three high to easily achieve the necessary height and length required. Globally consistent shipping container sizing means standard configurations can be offered worldwide for quick and effective Shelter solutions.

Portable, Modular Design

Containers can be anchored with internal or external ballast for structural stability; this reduces or even eliminates the need for ground anchoring, making for a truly modular design that is fully portable for movement or resale. Container Mounted DomeShelter Structures are ideal for projects requiring temporary or non-permanent Shelter solutions.

Modification Options

The containers themselves can be outfitted and customised to serve as offices or other usable spaces to maximise value for money.


Sea containers are the most common mounting option for Fabric Shelters, causing them to sometimes be referred to as ‘container shelters’. Around 70% of DomeShelter™ Structures involve some kind of container substructure.

Post Mounted

Post Mounted Fabric Shelter Sheep Feed Shelter

A DomeShelter™ Fabric Structure mounted on steel posts is also known as a Post Mounted DomeShelter™ Structure (PMDS).

Fabric Shelters can be mounted on steel posts or trusses of any height. Securing is achieved by bolting the posts to concrete slabs and footings. 

Post Mounted Shelters are commonly used for garaging, staff amenities and workshops. Their open design allows for natural ventilation and 360-degree access for personnel and equipment. They are also recommended where the desired mounting height is below 2.6 metres, or where limited space removes containers as a substructure option.  

Combination Mounted

DomeShelter Combination Mounted Structure for Segway event.

Steel posts on one side and shipping containers on the other provides the benefits of both mounting systems, a “best of both worlds” approach. Sea containers allow for functional and secure office and storage space, and posts provide open access and abundant light and airflow. 

Combination Shelters are often used where some secure storage is required but workshop access on three sides is more ideal than a conventional container mounted shelter. 

The Differences

The modular, relocatable nature of container mounted shelters, and the ability to utilise containers as storage or office space, often make them a preferred choice. Shipping containers – as well as Fabric Structures themselves – are also easily resaleable in the event they are no longer required, making them a sound investment. 

Post Mounted Shelters can have advantages, however, for remote sites where transport of containers is difficult and expensive, or where limited space is available. Additionally, for certain design requirements – especially very large Truss Shelters – posts are the natural choice as mounting on containers becomes increasingly expensive and complicated. 

Are Containers More Structurally Sound?

One misconception is that Container Mounted Shelters are more structurally sound than Post Mounted. In the case of DomeShelter Australia, all Shelters are equally engineered to their required wind speeds and other applicable influences, regardless of substructure type. This allows DomeShelter Australia’s customers to focus their choice of substructure on the specific needs of their project, backed by the promise that all our Shelters are equally Engineered to Protect. 

Price Points

If sea containers are readily available on site, this provides a clear cost advantage. If not, posts may be cheaper. Due to the number of variables and differences in requirements for each individual site and Shelter requirement, such wind codes or other factors, it is difficult to say which substructure option necessarily costs less.

In most cases it is best practice to look closely at the project requirements, including desired operational efficiencies, and design to meet those needs, rather than vying for the ‘cheapest’ option. What may save 20% in capital cost could well cause losses over and above those savings in inefficiencies, damaged products, etc., in a short space of time if the Shelter is not sufficiently Fit For Purpose. 

DomeShelter Australia

DomeShelter Australia’s unique design methodology, DomeShelter Logic™, places the need of each individual client first and ensures a thorough and conscientious approach that will lead to an end product that is truly Fit For Purpose. If you would like more information about how a DomeShelter Fabric Structure can solve your workplace needs, call our sales team on 1300 193 188 or visit Request a Quote to submit an enquiry. 

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