Here's some interesting – though unlikely to be realized – food-for-thought from Shenzhen, China-based CRG Architects. The firm envisions constructing a pair of shipping container-based skyscrapers in one of the world's largest slums: Dharavi, Mumbai, India.

Originally designed for a competition that sought container-based tower concepts for Mumbai (it placed third), CRG's twin towers would rise to a total height of 400 m (1,312 ft) and 200 m (656 ft), respectively. Both would sport a colorful painted exterior, and an form that twists markedly as they rise in height.

Tower 1, the tallest, would comprise a total floorspace of 78,383 sq m (843,707 sq ft) and rise to 139 floors, while its smaller counterpart, Tower 2, would measure 26,693 sq m (287,321 sq ft) of floorspace and rise to 78 floors. Because the containers couldn't support such a weight themselves, they would be supported by a concrete and steel structure. Around 4,500 of the metal boxes would be used overall, and CRG Architects estimates it would house roughly 1,300 families.

The apartments slated for the interior would be relatively generous. They vary in size from a one bedroom, one bathroom and kitchen unit squeezed into a single container, up to a three bedroom, three bathroom and kitchen unit made from a total of three modified containers. Each would boast air-conditioning and grey and black water recycling systems, with some containers also serving as large water tanks.

Of course, a skyscraper made from containers would face some serious challenges. With the only notable provision for tackling solar heat gain mentioned in the proposal being some vertical gardens and gaps between the structure, the interior is sure to be sweltering in summer for those who can't afford to run the aforementioned air-con.

In addition, the containers would require such significant modification that this could perhaps mitigate the benefits in cost and speed of using containers over standard construction methods in the first place. That said, ideas are certainly needed to tackle the widespread lack of sanitary conditions and safe housing in areas like Dharavi.

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