Containscraper
An artist's impression of the "Containscraper" project in Mumbai's Dharavi, considered Asia's biggest slum CRG Architects

Yes, you read it right. We are not talking of a post-apocalyptic world in which the living take shelter in shipping containers. We are talking of a sleek skyscraper built with the heavy steel boxes and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

This is what CRG Architects -- a Barcelona-based architectural firm that has now moved to Shenzhen, China -- has in mind. The firm's "Containskyscraper" was recently awarded the third prize for innovative design at an ideas competition.

The cargo container skyscraper was visualised for Asia's largest slum, Dharavi, in Mumbai, India's financial capital. CRG Architects says it has gone beyond the concept stage and has done a lot of ground work that would be needed to construct the 139-storey structure.

The Dharavi model Containskyscraper would require 2,400 shipping containers placed systematically, one on top of another, and would be able to accommodate around 5,000 people. Carlos Gomez, a principal at CRG Architects, told IBTimes UK he was not sure whether the project would receive the go-ahead from Indian authorities.

"Despite the echo that this proposal has made in the media and the architecture publications worldwide, we still didn't receive any answer back from them [the state's government]," he said.

The firm's greatest concern is the heat and humidity of Mumbai. "In Mumbai many people have died from the heat. The containers need to be adapted for human life with insulation, and they must allow air to flow through to keep the temperature down," he said. [Via CNN]

Gomez added that he would also want to "maintain the vibrant social and commercial life that characterises Dharavi", while dominating the Mumbai skyline. "The public spaces allow community activities, which is how life develops in slums. They don't just live there, they also work there, and we tried to give space for that," he said.

Asked if the project can attract elite buyers, Gomez said: "We must say that, as you know, this is a project for an ideas competition, and as it was the main target on that competition, we developed a project based on the standards of social housing. Therefore, it can be extrapolated to other strata of the population or of Indian civil society."

The firm is exploring microfinancing or crowdfunding for the proposed project "but at the moment we cannot share more (information) on this," he added.

With offices in Shenzhen, Laos (Nigeria) and another one coming up in Beijing, Gomez said his firm seeks to tap the Indian market and may open an office in Mumbai. The firm is also eyeing other innovative ideas. For example, it is working on a "Bamboo Skyscraper".

"This project has been selected as a finalist in the World Architecture Festival, and this November we will make the presentation in front of an international jury of architects in Singapore, to possibly being awarded as World Future Project of the Year," Gomez said.

More about mega structures