Shipping Container Skyscrapers – Are They Really Viable?
Architects, planners and designers in the Indian megacity of Mumbai are planning what might be the first structurally sound and sustainable shipping container skyscraper in the world. While there have been plenty of concept shipping container skyscrapers designed, we’ve still yet to see something actually built – mainly due to the limitation of stacking shipping containers approximately 9 units high without some serious reinforcing.
This new design completely and utterly surpasses the 9 floor barrier, by stacking shipping containers to a height of 32 stories. They do this by utilising a steel girder framework every 8 stories, effectively building lots of shipping container buildings with a reinforced frame on top of each other. Of course this isn’t the first time the designers have attempted something like this, in that past they have been responsible for designs of shipping container “twin towers” of 79 and 138 floors respectively supported by a steel and concrete structure and constructed from approximately 4,500 shipping containers.
The goal of this shipping container design, and others like it, are to provide a large amount of low cost housing that is safe, affordable and sanitary, quickly and easily in the slums of India. Plans for the apartments vary in size from one to three bedrooms in size and each has its own living and kitchen areas. Each apartment will be constructed from three modified second hand shipping containers placed side by side, with the containers being offset to allow more natural light to enter the glass windows that have been installed in the sides. The tower also will generate its own electricity with both solar panels and wind generation being built into it.
Access to the apartments will be provided by stairs and lifts that are situated in the central columns of the building. Of course not all of this might be practical according to the writers at Tree Hugger. They note that while containers are able to be stacked up to nine containers high, this only works when they are stacked on top of each other evenly, corner to corner (the corner of a shipping container is it’s strongest point). By offsetting the shipping containers to maximise the natural light available, the designers may have significantly reduced the stacking strength of the shipping containers – even with the framing and reinforcement every 8 or 9 floors. This is a perfect example of why anyone planning to build with shipping containers needs to engage both an engineer and an architect, to ensure it is both structurally sound and visually appealing.
While the staggered design might look amazing and be great for natural light, it does little for the structural integrity of the project and is an example of why you need to consult both an architect and and structural engineer before any major building project involving shipping containers. They also note that the internal plans might be more aspirational than realistic when it comes to fitting the furniture in after the containers have been insulated.
Of course that doesn’t rule out all possibilities for shipping container skyscrapers, just that there still is a significant amount of work that needs to go into the planning of them before they become a reality. Treehugger points out some other pretty interesting designs in the runners up for the competition, including this great design that uses removable shipping containers that slot in and out of a rail type system/exoskeleton allowing for them to be removed and replaced as needed. A design that is eerily similar to the “Jenga” style shipping container hotel.
Ready to build your own shipping container super project?
Then contact the team at Gateway Container Sales and Hire. They’ll help you get in touch with the right sort of tradespeople and advisors to ensure that your crazy ideas for building a giant shipping container structure are actually feasible. Once it’s time for construction, they’ll supply you with the second hand shipping containers you need for the job. Go on – give them a call, and get a free quote for your next project today!