Shipping Containers Create Super Skyscraper in Mumbai


NBRS’ latest innovation tested the boundaries of modular design. Our entry for Super Sky ScrapersSteel City: Container Skyscrapers competition, created an agile residential solution in the heart of Mumbai, utilising shipping containers as the main building components.

The NBRS design, Lotus of Dharavi, purposefully utilises vertical space in order to free up urban space by creating a ‘city within a city’ that offers areas for recreation, health, education, living, and sleeping. The Lotus of Dharavi rises above the density of the existing slums, recognising the value and intrinsic potential within the existing Dharavi community and offering a new sustainable and socially grounded platform to enhance the wellbeing of its inhabitants.

Under the direction of Architect Andrew Duffin, the NBRS team designed three towers of unequal heights that replicate petals of the lotus flower, the highest being 60 storeys. The towers are situated above ground using vertical concrete-filled shipping containers and are arranged in a pattern of 5 residential floors with communal open spaces integrated between. These communal open spaces support community interactivity and provide social services including open air schools, medical clinics, and markets for trade as well as small business offices.

Dharavi people live, work, and sleep in a singular space. With this in mind, the basic apartment was designed as a connected and transitional group of 3 shipping containers able to house, employ, and sustain up to 12 people. The apartments aim to improve quality of life through access to natural light and ventilation, green edge planter boxes for food, appropriate meal preparation space and sanitary facilities.

The towers take inspiration from the gentle curved shape of the lotus petal. The petal shapes across the site’s boundary creating a connection with the surrounding Dharavi Slum precinct, and expresses both a desire for connectivity and the opportunity for rejuvenation beyond the immediate site. The lotus flower, Padma, is a powerful symbol for India and in the same way the design reflects a new opportunity to create an environment of hope and delight.




NBRS+PARTNERS is a people focused, research based studio that aims to enrich lives. By developing creative design partnerships our portfolio spanning public and private sectors exhibit an understanding of the people whose lives will be affected. Above all NBRS seeks to design environments that will have positive life changing affect. Architecture is the cornerstone of NBRS+PARTNERS global interdisciplinary design practice with expertise in Architecture, Heritage, Interiors, Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, ESD and Research. Since 1968, NBRS has developed a research led international architecture practice based in Sydney Australia. NBRS is recognised for its innovative, award-winning design excellence and comprehensive expertise. Our design-minded, 50 strong team’s unique focus on creative partnerships helps to realise solutions, with extraordinary results.

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