Could a shipping container skyscraper replace slums?

Shipping container homes are not a new conception; they’ve been around now for a number of years and feature within a variety of countries throughout the world. As well as being used to build luxurious mansions, they’ve also been used for affordable housing schemes; however shipping containers might also be the answer to the developing world’s overcrowding problem.

Within India, it is estimated that over 65 million people live in slums below the poverty line and Mumbai’s Dharavi slums is one of the largest and most crowded ghettos in the world. To help tackle this overwhelming problem, a Spanish architecture firm CRG has proposed to build a high-rise skyscraper, made completely out of recycled shipping containers.

Conveniently named, the ‘Containscraper' comprises two shipping container towers and would provide affordable accommodation for over 1,500 families, if they were given the go-ahead to be built.

The two towers would be of differing heights, one being 400 metres high, whilst the adjacent shipping container tower would be half the height at 200 metres tall. A total of 2,500 recycled shipping containers would be required to build these two structures.

CRG stated that, "The irregular shape of the site gives us total freedom to design."

This project by CRG won third prize in the SuperSkyScrapers competition, for container skyscrapers in Mumbai, and was the tallest proposal out of all designs entered. The competition’s brief was to create an affordable housing solution from shipping containers for Dharavi, an area with a lack of infrastructure and adequate sanitation.

Containscraper would have a twisting shape which not only would be functional due to being able to distribute the container’s weight evenly, but it would make the towers look more visually appealing, helped by the vivid bright colours.

It would be hard to miss these two towers due to their bright colour scheme of red, yellow, green and blue. These colours are actually intended to represent the warmest and coldest parts of the building.

The twisting shape, which would have a hollow centre would also stay ventilated from wind flowing through in order to keep the structures cool, whilst the windows in the containers would be angled in a way that would ensure each apartment would have some privacy away from their neighbours, whilst maximise their views of the city.

There would be a choice of apartments, which includes single units, whilst a three-bedroom family residence could be made of up to three containers joined together. Inside the apartments, there would be air-conditioning as well as water recycling systems, whilst some of the empty shipping containers would be home to vertical gardens and large water tanks and potentially schools, medical services, small markets and entertainment areas.

To support the shipping container structure, there would be a concrete and steel structure which would be arranged in such a way that their edges would overlap each other, creating a cylindrical tower. Within its core, an elevator would transport residents to their required floor.

According to the architect Carlos Gomez, “The maximum number of stacking containers one above the other is nine units. It means we need a main structure to support them if we want to have such a height”.

The winner of the competition was Ghanti Associates who came up with a proposal for a 100 metre high rectangular structure inclusive of solar panels and micro wind turbines. Dio Inno Architects took second prize with their triangular complex that bridges across a busy street.

Although CRB Architects did not win the Mumbai housing competition, they are in discussion with humanitarian companies to discover whether their design could be used elsewhere in the world instead.

Today, more and more people are shifting towards urbanisation and looking to live in the major cities of the world. It is expected that six out of every ten people in the world will live in an urban area by 2030 and tackling issues such as overcrowding and property affordability is becoming increasingly important.
Published on 24th of August 2015 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich

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