As a Chinese construction company sets its sights on building the world’s tallest building in 90 days, the question as to whether they can actually do so is not as important as whether they should.
China’s rapid urbanisation has finally come to a head, as the construction company who has delivered the world’s previous fastest large-scale builds, Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) aims to deliver a 200-storey, 838 metre tall skyscraper in just 90 days.
The proposed building, labeled Sky City One, is being heralded as a ‘200 storey energy and material efficient, earthquake resistance building – a car free city for 10,000 people’ and ‘a milestone for sky-life transforming’. All of these promises are to be delivered within three months.
If it were perhaps any other development team, the idea of a green, earthquake resistant, mega-skyscraper being constructed within such a short timeframe would seem ludicrous, but BSB has shown an ability to perform to a tight time frame in the past. The company has delivered both a three-storey development in just nine days and a 30-storey hotel in only 15 days.
Sky City One is expected to feature both high-income and low-income dwellings as well as commercial and retail space and 31 high-speed elevators.
BSB has a not-so-secret plan that will allow them to meet their tight deadline: extensive prefabrication.
According to the development team, a massive 95 per cent of the building will be completed before onsite work even begins. This process serves a dual positive function. First and foremost, since the prefabricated concrete elements will already have set, they will be able to take on weight loads directly, thus drastically speeding up the overall construction time. Secondly, the entire prefab process is a green building technique, which minimises waste and can lower the embodied energy of a building.
Due to these factors, the two claims the developers are making about Sky City Once with respect to timeframe and energy efficiency status are not drastically unrealistic.
These processes will also bring down costs, with the overall build predicted to cost approximately $628 million, far less than the $1.5 billion cost of the Burj Khalifa. The monetary savings are impressive, particularly in light of the fact that the former building will be at least 10 metres taller than the latter.
While it may very be possible for BSB to develop such a building, we come back to the question of whether they should. While the building standards in China have risen, perhaps in part due to both national and international interest, the country retains a reputation for developing quickly at any cost.
This industry mentality has caused a number of infrastructure issues, including train derailments and the actual tipping over of a 13-storey building in Shanghai that toppled while under construction.
BSB is adamant that the new building will be built to exacting safety standards. Pressure will be on them now to deliver on this claim or risk further damage to the reputation of the Chinese industry.
The project has thus far gained approval by local entities, but is still waiting on official government approval. If all goes according to plan, the skyscraper will reach its completion date of January, 2013.