New kid on the tallest block


ASIA BRIEFING: THESE RECESSIONARY times are far from heady days for skyscraper building. The economic slowdown has played havoc with the real estate sector, which means property developers are less inclined to think of shooting upwards and more concerned with shifting units they have on hand.

Not so in China, where a slowing economy is still expanding at rates unheard of in the West and where there is still considerable interest in building the kind of skyscrapers that show the rest of the world that your city or company has truly arrived.

It took Dubai more than five years to build the world’s tallest building, the 828m Burj Khalifa, but architects and engineers reckon they need a mere 90 days to build Sky City, an 838-metre building in Changsha, Hunan province, probably best known as the home town of Chairman Mao Zedong.

Sky City will be built by Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a unit of the air conditioning maker Broad Group, and the projected cost of the 220-storey structure is four billion yuan (€500 million).

BSB chief executive officer Zhang Yue says the company plans to break ground on Sky City next November and that the tower will be completed in January 2013.

It will consume a fifth of the energy required by a conventional building due to unique construction methods, such as quadruple glazing and 15cm-thick exterior walls for thermal insulation.

The construction process will be fast because it will be made up of pre-cast sections. It is also a lot cheaper than other projects.

According to the developers, the aim is to build a “medium- cost, super-saving utility building and to promote a futuristic urban lifestyle”, which is expected to house the world’s highest hotel, J Hotel.

Sky City will be taller than the Shanghai Tower, which was supposed to be China’s tallest building at 632m when completed in 2014. Ground was broken on that 121-storey tower in Lujiazui in 2008.

However, there are doubts that the latest project will find funding, with sceptics pointing out that Broad’s construction company has never built anything taller than 30 storeys.

The Wangcheng district government withdrew the news of Broad Group’s plan from its website on June 7th after it caused public uproar.

The group subsequently said its plan was awaiting approval from the local government. Watch this (very tall) space.