Worlds tallest building will be built in China, over 90 days

Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) is an innovative Chinese architectural firm whose mission is to erect "medium-cost, super-saving utility buildings and to promote a futuristic urban lifestyle." They are planning to build the world's tallest building, the Sky City Tower in Changsha, Hunan, whose 220 storeys will be erected in 90 days. The timelapse video above shows another BSB project, a 30-storey hotel that went up in 15 days. The company claims its designs are extremely seismically robust and environmentally efficient. From CNNGo:

Its 220 stories will provide a total of 1 million square meters of usable space, linked by 104 elevators.

Zhang said Sky City is expected to consume a fifth of the energy required by a conventional building due to BSB’s unique construction methods, such as quadruple glazing and 15-centimeter-thick exterior walls for thermal insulation.

The company's construction methods also seem to save money.

According to Chinese newspaper 21 Century Business Herald, the total investment in Sky City is RMB 4 billion (US$628 million), compared with US$1.5 billion on Burj Khalifa and US$2.2 billion on Shanghai Tower.

Sky City: China plans world's tallest building (via Kottke)


  1. They seem to be working a constant 24 hours a day though (from what I see from the vid).  So they’d be taking 270 days in comparative terms to an 8 hour working day.

  2. As someone who has worked in the construction industry for many years, the level of coordination and precision being executed here is staggering.  

    This is lots of smart people hashing out every detail and movement ahead of time, in the most exacting way.

    I applaud the efforts of everyone involved in this project.

    (as long as the building doesn’t fall down) :)

    1. And given the level of cronyism that seems to be plaguing the Chinese economy at this time, i give it even odds on not falling over.

      1. … as if high-level party cronyism isn’t plaguing the US economy. 

        Meanwhile, our buildings still get built. But in China they’re getting built an order of magnitude bigger, faster, and more. Anybody who’s actually been there knows. Anyone who’s an architect knows too – that’s where all the work is now. (If “CCTV Headquarters” doesn’t ring a bell, you’re clue-challenged.)

        What’s weird is how fine-grained the uneven distribution of their present is: brand spanking new 5-star Beijing hotels more lux than anything you’ve seen, with beautiful engraved placards mounted above the bathroom faucets, warning not to drink the water.

    2.  I have been watching the Broad Group’s progress over the past year at (excellent science and technology site). Broad is like the SpaceX of skyscrapers. The engineering and project management is astounding. This isn’t just thrown up slapdash, it’s an integrated, optimized machine with remarkable subsystems, built in an enormous factory and assembled on-site. The speed of construction is a result of their meticulous design of every part and process, not some stunt or arbitrarily imposed timetable. Energy, material and labor efficiency in producing a durable, safe building with high environmental quality are the primary goals, and this leads to an inexpensive, quickly-constructed building.

      Broad is also a leader in high-efficiency air conditioning. Their previous proposal for a 666m building (the new construction will be 838m) used their existing AC equipment to filter outside air to 20- 100x cleaner than outside air. By using air-air heat exchangers to reclaim heat, it replaces inside air with filtered outside air 5-10 times per hour at an air conditioning cost of only 205kWh per month per 660 square foot unit (61.3m^2). Total energy use for such a unit will be about 460kWh per month, counting in common spaces, elevators, lights, AC, ventilation and over 100kWh for miscellaneous appliances.

      These are going to be very light units, too – 82 lbs./sq.ft. (400kg/m^2), 24.5 tonnes per 660 sq. ft. unit. The floors are steel with just 3cm of concrete. 96% of the steel scrap gets recycled at the factory. On-site construction waste is less than 1% of the mass of the building, factory waste is less than 4%.

      120 m^2 of floor and 120^m of ceiling can be transported in a single truck load, (with plumbing, electric, and HVAC pre-installed)  together with all the walls, windows, doors, columns and braces. When building hotels,  major furnishings are pre-installed.

      The truss structures are optimized and scale-tested for severe earthquake resistance (level 9), with short diagonal braces of the same size as the main members welded into all corners.

      One of their six Chinese factories is 1.33M m^2 (14.7M sq.ft.) and produces 10M m^2 of skyscrapers per year (3.86 square miles). The factory does 93% of the labor, allowing faster and cheaper construction.

      The production cost is about $50/ sq. ft., the sales price is about $75/sq. ft. ($785/m^2). A 660 sq. ft. unit would cost less than $50,000. (1/6 to 1/3 typical Shanghai prices)

      The technology is available for license world-wide; Broad hopes to get about 10 joint-ventures per year over the next few years. Costs for an exclusive regional franchise are $34 million for a population of 10 million and $50 million for a population of 50 million.

    1. To be fair, on that one they forgot the huge hex-head bolts to anchor the thing down. They won’t be doing that for these buildings. I think they’re using gigantic bedrock screws.

      1. …Or are they? How many things get overlooked/skipped in the name of meeting their 90 day deadline?

    2. Came here to post this (domino tumbling apartment building).  Leaving satisfied.

    1. That’s some erection you’ve got going there!


      For erections lasting more than 15 days….

    1. E(conomic)-peen, basically. China is doing essentially the same as USA and Russia was doing during the space race. Showing of industrial and economic muscle via feats of engineering. Think of it as national chest beating.

      Hell, they are about to launch their own crews into space. Their turnaround kinda reminds me of Japan after coming out of the samurai isolationism.

      1.  China bought the space flight technology from Russia.  That makes it a bit less impressive to me as an indicator of domestic engineering achievement.

          1. Yes, because there were NO innovations made between 1945 and 1960 by American and Soviet efforts… it also explains all those swastika flags on the moon.

            Sorry, I just hate it when anyone belittles the USA and USSR space programs. 

          2. @boingboing-1ed82386dca88c2856a8f0ee075b34c6:disqus And i am sure that while the Chinese bought the proverbial starter kit from Russia, they have adapted and built upon it for local conditions.

          3. Nobody belittles the US space program benher. We are just pointing out that it was run by a German nazi who previously had slaves build the V rockets that hit London at the end of WWII. But hey winner’s justice is an awesome concept … for winners.

      2. If that were the reason it would be in Shanghai or someplace.  Changsha is like the Cleveland of China.  

  3. Anyone want to place a bet on exactly how long it will remain the world’s tallest building?
    Not because I think someone will come along and beat it, you understand. It’s because I think it will fall down.

  4. I’d not even want to cross near the fall radius of this thing.  Even if they only mean structural steel and framing in that period, I’d *really* love to see a report from solid German or American or Japanese engineers as to how sturdy it really.

  5. The vid had stuff on the air system along with the claim like “inside air 20 times purer than outside air”.

    I guess that is one way to deal with horrible air pollution. 

  6. The scary thing with this video is that cleaning the outside air before it enters the building is a major selling point. The building process is brilliant.

    1.  Big service elevator?  Throw it off the roof and walk slowly away whistling?  leave it for really serious window-washing?

      1. The crane is modular and can be lowered down in pieces.  The vertical space it it taking up will be an air or elevator shaft.

        1.  Lowered by what? A crane-lowering crane?

          Which is itself, lowered in pieces by…. a crane-lowering-crane-lowering-crane?

          Which is itself, lowered in pieces by….

          1. Yes, you are correct!

            “…Usually the large crane will hoist up a smaller crane that is connected to the top of the skyscraper. This allows workers to detach pieces of the primary crane and slowly lower them back down to the ground…
            To remove the second crane, a third crane is often sent up, even smaller, to lower the pieces of the second crane down. This third crane is small enough to be taken apart by hand and removed through elevator shafts or other inner passageways…”

  7. That is an impressively organised and well planned construction, I applaud them. I’d live there despite a deep hatred of modern cheap housing – Modern housing is sloppy and not designed to last like homes of the last century were, but it would appear they have nailed good quality construction down to the last detail.

      1.  Yeah,  good point, it is the 21st c. now, and the latter half of the last century had lousy construction.

        If I had to pick a century for good architectural design and workmanship, it would be 1820-1920, but up to 1940 was mostly good.

  8. It’s not a seismically-active area, so I don’t think it needs the extraordinary engineering that goes into skyscrapers in Tokyo and San Francisco.

    However, it  *is* in an area subject to typhoons, and wind speeds increase exponentially with the height of a building… As do the forces (specifically: the bending moments) exerted on the lower storeys

    If you click through the links, you’ll see that the building is a pyramid – albeit a very steep one – and wind loading is part of the reason for that.

    I’m confident that the building will stand up to the projected 100-year storm in the region – although the upper storeys will be a very uneasy place to be, as you’ll feel the building flexing – and it will probably be designed for the 200-year storm. 

    Only problem is, we don’t actually know what the 200-year-storm actually is. We used to have good statistics (and China has ten centuries of records) but small changes in the average surface temperature of the oceans have disproportionate effects on the frequency and severity of extreme weather events: the insurance industry and the engineering professions have serious concerns that you probably don’t get to see in soundbite-and-celebrity news media – or in countries subject to political censorship.

    1. I find your comment unsuitably well informed and reasonable, entirely lacking the racism, butthurtery and “CHINESE LOL IT FALLZ DOWN” derision apparently mandatory for this thread.

      1. Racism? The assumption that products out of the PRC are often dangerous/inferior/derivative is the big “R?” I think the correct English word you are seeking is “country-izm.”

        1. For me as a German the rule is more simple: 

          All products that are NOT from Germany are potentially dangerous, health hazards and of low quality.

    2. One of my profs was working in Vietnam on modeling the 10,000 year storm. Not that it negates your concerns but those predictions where based on worst case scenarios for the weather and were not actually statistical averaging over 10,000 years of weather. I would imagine they went higher than the 200 year event anyhow. If it were my project I would I would like a bit more safety. 200 year would be fine for the gutters, but you were talking about the wind? In the one case water runs out of the scuppers in the second the building can blow over. 200 year gives a 0.5% chance of the event right? The hydrology for the new Crystal Bridges here in Ark, a building filled with priceless art, that has a river running under it, what we call a creek, was rumored to have used the 4000 year storm for the hydrology. So anyways for the margin of error for non statistical modeling I would assume would be so great that the built in conservatism could probably cover the changes, assuming (again) they are not several order of magnitude greater. How much worse are the sources you have been reading or the work you have been doing saying the weather is going to be?

    3. It’s not so much the actual construction that concerns me, it’s the fact that they are planning to complete it in record time for far cheaper than any other comparable structure.  I haven’t heard of buildings in my city collapsing or anything that serious, but bits fall off them quite often. Last week a large piece of facade fell off one of the higher floors of a bank about 50m from my apartment during a rainstorm; three cars and a lot of the front of the bank were destroyed, but I don’t think anyone was killed. Last year some friends had the ceiling fall in in their children’s room (this was in one of the newer and more expensive estates in the city). Even if the structure is fairly sound, there just seem to be too many corners cut in construction and too little access to high quality materials here to be confident that nothing will go wrong. There’s also the fire risk, especially around Chinese New Year tall, as modern buildings often have fireworks bouncing off them throughout the period of the festival. A few major buildings have burned down in the past few years because of that reason. I hope these concerns will prove to be unfounded, but I don’t think they are purely the result of racism.

      1. It’s not so much the actual construction that concerns me, it’s the fact that they are planning to complete it in record time for far cheaper than any other comparable structure.

        Yeah, we should have never built the Empire State Building, either.  Four and a half stories of riveted ironwork a  week?  Far too risky!  Better to sink into an idle stupor on the couch.  Hey, Beastmaster‘s on!

        1. The superstructure was built at an incredible rate, but it took them almost 25 more years to finish the inside of the building. Something about offices not needing more space in the middle of a massive recession. The Empire State Building has also gone through at least two major overhauls, not to mention whenever a large tenant moves in to an entire floor. The video provided shows the workers even making the beds, so he brings up a valid point.

  9. Vaguely disappointed it’s only 10 metres taller than Burj Khalifa. I hope there are kilometre-tall skyscrapers in my lifetime – it’s one of the things the future owes us.

    1. Ok, I’ll bite: why?  Building tall things just for the sake of building them seems like a waste of resources to me.  Especially when we’re talking about a country as poor as China, and there are so many more pressing needs.

      1. Because kilometre-tall buildings are awesome, and if “saving resources” was the be-all and end-all of life on Earth, we should simply start a self-extinction campaign.

      2.  Because a skyscraper saves arable land over conventional housing.  It’s also uses much fewer resources to build, maintain, heat, cool, light, etc., than a similar amount of conventional housing.  Not to mention policing the area.

        1. I’m totally in agreement about building up instead of out.  Density is good, for all the reasons you mention and more.  But there is such a thing as an economically rational height to buildings, where the costs of stabilizing them and buttressing them against wind shear outpaces any benefits.  By the time you get anywhere near record-setting heights, the project is motivated by ego, not dollars and cents.  There’s even a theory that says that skyscraper record-busting is a sure sign of a property bubble.  That’s likely what’s going on in China right now.

          1. Sure, there’s a property bubble, but the Burj is built in the middle of a very low population density area, in the middle of the desert, with only one export – petroleum. Mainland China is a completely different market. As agriculture improves and modernizes, more and more of their 2 billion citizens will move to the city, and suburban style housing for that kind of population isn’t at all sustainable.

        2. Eh, that is half true.  There are diminishing returns though.  Something as simple as pumping water becomes a real challenge as you get higher.  You also start expending more energy in moving people.  Maintenance costs, go up… it is not all bigger is better.  I would be willing to bet that a city where every building is 50 stories high is probably more efficient than one where every building is 100 stories high.

          One neat statistic that I always like was, if you can accept a population density equal to Manhattan, you can squeeze all 7 billion of us humans into a square 350 miles by 350 miles (or 550×550 km).  That would be such an epic city, and you would have the rest of the world freed up for reserves and food production.

  10. I don’t think they’ll be able to make their 90 day target. In order to do so they’d need to add stories at the same or rather even slightly greater pace than they did for this 30 story construction, and the ever increasing distance that they need to raise things seems like it would make that impossible. To say nothing of the fact that those lower stories will weigh massively more.
    And like some others here I’m skeptical of its soundness. The bottom needs to be made of some seriously chunky steel in order for this same-width layer cake approach to work. I hope the engineers in charge really know their stuff.

  11. Doesn’t China have entire planned cities sitting vacant now?  What’s the hurry with this one?  

    1. Building things simply for building’s sake. Your 9% annual growth needs to continue or the economy will shatter and the peasants are likely to riot in the streets, which so far they’ve largely succeeded in doing since Tienanmen Square 20 years ago.

  12. Rapidly building a supertall structure on the cusp of a massive downturn in the economic centre of the world? Ladies and jellyspoons, we have this century’s Empire State Building moment.

  13. Lightening insurance a must. The ion flows alone will make your hair stand on end.  

  14. Are they’re doing LOTS of ‘pre-fab’ off location before the 90 day onsite build?

    Or are they only working off site and building on site all in 90 days?

    Yes.  90 days of onsite construction is super quick no matter what.

  15. China’s contributions to our modern civilization are often overlooked due to our western biased understanding of history. From movable type and the wheelbarrow to metallurgy, ceramic engineering and seismology, there is hardly a basic function of modern technology that doesn’t trace its origins to China’s 5 thousand year history of advancements. Creating an efficient way to make vertical structures is needed for modern cities, particularly if we hope to see cities stop sprawling and would like to see vertical farms come to areas of high density urban populations so that the production and delivery of fresh fruits and vegetable (and even some protein producing animals from aquaculture and perhaps other domesticated food animals) can be most efficiently conducted in proximity to their consumers. Consider that in order to conserve wild lands and habitat we need to see many more of  those who are currently living in rural areas and who are in some ways largely responsible for the human impacts on what remains of wild lands, move to more urban settings where the benefits of modernity are available to be effectively available to them while making energy efficiency and recycling more effective as well, these fast growing cities, such as the world’s largest city, which is incidentally China’s old provincial capital of Chung King at over 38 million, will be expanding rapidly in the not too distant future, and going vertical in an efficient and modern manner will become the way of the future. 

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