Shipping Container Skyscrapers Proposed for Mumbai

Written by Lloyd Alter

Here is the winner of an international ideas competition for housing in the slums of Mumbai, designed by Ganti + Asociates (GA) Design. The competition actually was for container skyscraper, which is a debatable concept from the start, and I think demonstrates many of the problems with container architecture.

night view
© Ganti + Associates

The design takes advantage of the fact that one can stack containers nine high when full, 16 high when empty.

Containers can be stacked 10 storeys high without additional supports. The steel skin itself takes the load like a “Monocoque” structure thus cutting cost for additional columns or beams. The design of a 100 M tall high rise structure (approx. 32 storeys) calls for erecting portal frames connected with steel girders placed every 8 storeys. Each 8 storey self-supporting stack rests on these girders and the module repeats vertically.

The problem is that you can only stack them on their corner castings; the monocoque is not strong enough to support another container on top. So you would not be able to jog them in and out as shown.

floor plan
© Ganti + Associates

Then there is the issue of the plans; beds are 75 inches long. Containers are 90 inches wide inside without insulation. In Mumbai you are definitely going to need insulation that probably takes the width down to 87 inches if it is only insulated on the outside. Which means you only have 12 inches to get around the end of the bed. Which is not very realistic.

perspective
© AKKA Architects

In almost every architectural competition I look at, it seems I prefer the honorable mentions better than the winners. That certainly happened here, where I find that the most interesting entry is from Stephanie Hughes of AKKA Architects in Amsterdam. She has designed a simple framework that acts as a platform that you insert the container houses in.

detail perspective
© AKKA Architects

This allows the occupants a lot more flexibility in how they use the space around their units; in fact, it is a city in the sky with all kinds of things going on. The architect notes:

The housing flats in this complex have private but also semi-public and public sections allowing small home-based businesses and production units to be run from the ‘residential’ units. In addition, Living frame|work contains open plazas, public spaces, ramps, stairs, water collection systems, solar farms, recycling facilities, leather tanneries, metal and wood workshops, pottery studios, garments, luggage and jewellery workshops…etc. In its different towers and different areas (ground floors and roofs), this project houses different neighbourhoods with their different activities and industries.

section
© AKKA

AKKA plan
© AKKA Architects

The plan of the units more accurately represent the real width inside the boxes, and is probably luxury accommodation in the slums of Mumbai.

As with the Evolo competitions, I am always amazed by the energy and skill that goes into these entries that almost nobody ever sees and that have no possibility of being built. Unlike most of the Evolo entries, both of these schemes have been proposed by established architectural firms that have built real buildings. A lot of architects avoid competitions for real buildings because so much energy goes into them for so little possibility of gain; It surprises me still that they go into ideas competitions like this.

It also still surprises me that shipping containers are still treated as magic boxes that can do anything while costing nothing. So much work going on here, so much time, such substandard results. Why bother?

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

53 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Christine Ko
.3 years ago

Interesting! Noted with thanks.

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Dennis H.
Dennis H3 years ago

It's on no-one's radar screen but I avoid living in metal cladding. I suspect it blocks important energies or traps them.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago

noted

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Miriam VOICEfortheVOICELE

Thanks so much for sharing!

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell3 years ago

Thanks

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Shirley S.
Shirley S3 years ago

I just noticed an ad on the side here,selling containers 10ft 20ft & 40ft.

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Shirley S.
Shirley S3 years ago

Do they use any insulation ???

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Maggie W.
Maggie D3 years ago

I'm sure anyone living in the slums would be more than happy to live in a shipping container.

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Karen H.
Karen H3 years ago

I was looking into shipping containers for housing, and there are companies that make them quite roomy.

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