China Aims for World's Tallest Structure, Using Prefab

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Tall buildings have become a somewhat common part of the Chinese landscape lately: so much so, in fact, that some individuals have begun criticizing their government's gung-ho attitude to skyscraper planning permits. Projects rarely get as adventurous as the planned 202-story Sky City, however. This time, the structure is taller than anything previously erected anywhere in China, and it's being built from prefabricated modules. The kicker is that it will be up in ninety days or less.

Broad Sustainable Building, the firm behind the Sky City construction project, plans to assemble the superstructure on site in Changsha, Hunan Province. Its constituent modules will be built in the local area to ensure that the local economy benefits as much as possible from the project. If the Broad Group's calculations are correct, the whole tower should be complete in less than three months. However, industry experts—both in China and abroad—have lingering doubts about the latest addition to China's repertoire of tall buildings.

For a start, the project was meant to break ground in 2012, and it did not. In fact, there were several false starts before the groundbreaking ceremony eventually took place on July 20, 2013. Shortly after that, work halted suddenly at the request of government officials after it was discovered that the venture did not have appropriate planning permission. According to local sources, delays such as these are common in the Chinese construction industry—especially when tall buildings are involved.

China already contains sixty of the world's top 100 tall buildings, but this ambitious design—which will eventually soar 2,749 feet into the air—is not without its critics. Chinese media outlets and several architects have expressed concerns over the Broad Group's ability to tackle such a large project. The group has only erected two other tall buildings to date, both of which are skyscrapers fewer than thirty floors high. Speculation has also surrounded the proposed structure's ability to withstand horizontal forces and remain stable on its foundations, especially in high winds.

The latest reports estimate that on-site assembly will begin in April 2014 and that Sky City will be finished by July. One of the most impressive skyscrapers ever conceived, the design contains five schools, several large offices, a 1,000-guest hotel, a restaurant, and apartments for 17,000 city residents.

If and when it is complete, Sky City will tower over the rest of Changsha's tall buildings. Some experts have expressed concerns that several key safety elements may have been overlooked in favor of size. However, Broad Sustainable Building continues to promote Sky City as a secure, well-designed skyscraper and an asset to the landscape.

(Photo courtesy of sura nualpradid /


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