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A Rainbow Shipping Container Tower Rises in Mumbai

'Steel City' is a magical example of reusable architecture, from architect Carlos R. Gomez and CRG Architects.
August 25, 2015, 8:30pm

International architecture firm CRG Architects have proposed a highly ambitious, highly innovative project that represents the forefront of environmentally conscious building design. Steel City - Container Skyscraper is currently in the conceptual stages of development, lead by architect Carlos R. Gomez. It's one of the more monumental examples of architectural upcycling in the news today: the “Containscraper” concept was the CRG’s entry for an international design competition, where the main requirement was to use recycled shipping containers as the main element for the proposed project. Thus, the skyscraper was presented as a adequate housing solution for the densely overpopulated Dharavi neighborhood of Mumbai, an area of India most affected by the mass urbanization taking place in South Asia.

CRG Architects cites the statistic that six out of every ten people in the world are expected to migrate into urban areas by 2030, with 90% of this growth taking place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The press release writes, “effects can already be felt: lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and outdated infrastructure—be it roads, public transport, water, sanitation, or electricity—escalating poverty and unemployment, safety and crime problems, pollution and health issues, as well as poorly managed natural or man-made disasters and other catastrophes due to the effects of climate change.”

Steel City would consist of two cylindrical towers made from 2,344 cheap and available recycled shipping containers from the port city of Mumbai. The twisting, stacked structure of the skyscraper optimizes wind flow and natural ventilation, while providing a 360-degree view of the surrounding city. The two towers differ in height, at 400m for the taller, 139-floor tower (1,312'), and 200m for the 78-floor shorter one (656'). At capacity, Steel City would be inhabited by approximately 1,400 Families, and 5,000 total residents, and would be the new height marker-to-beat on the Mumbai skyline.

The existing useable containers are painted in an array of different colors. After studying the solar exposure of the site, Gomez and his team developed a color arrangement that optimizes the paint of each facade based on the heating rate of each side, an attempt to combat the high temperatures during the summer in Mumbai. “We gave the warmer colors to the south side, and colder colors to the north side, reproducing colors of transition between each of them, along the east and west sides of the towers,” they explain.

The buildings are set to include a collection of public spaces, promoting a communal and integrated residential environment, as well as “vertical gardens, medical services, small markets, schools for children and for adults, entertainment areas, allowing those people of enjoying the great views in height and the fresh air, escaping from the polluted lower areas of the slum.” CRG also plans to build coiled ramps centered around the vertical core of lifts, providing a network of channels for residents to move through the structure.

Gomez tells The Creators Project that the cost savings the shipping containers offer haven't been calculated in detail, but he approximates it could be 1/3 less than the cost of a normal construction. He explains that the maximum number of stacking containers is between 8 to 9 units, so a main structure will have to divide these units into sections for support if they want to achieve their goal of 400m. “Having a look at the section and at the schematic structure 3D image, you can see a concrete structure of columns and slabs, every 8 or 9 levels. The strength will not be compromised by using a cylindrical form due to this main concrete structure, that actually is responsible for holding all the containers.” With offices in New York, Barcelona, Lagos, and Shenzhen, Gomez has his eyes set on building sites all over the world to employ his eco-driven designs.

On August 5th, CRG announced that the Steel City project placed third in the SuperSkyScrapers competition. Stay updated on the latest projects from Carlos R. Gomez and his team on Facebook and Twitter.


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