Well, that didn’t quite come off as planned. Instead of 202 floors, there are only 57. In effect, this more modest Mini Sky City serves as a working proof of concept for the original plan, which the builders, Broad Sustainable Building, have not abandoned at all.
In 2013, I expressed surprise that builders had gotten permission for such an audacious project — a super-skyscraper in Changsha, which is, after all, only a provincial capital and not world-famous like Shanghai or Beijing. I figured government mucky-mucks would object to Changsha stealing thunder from the country’s metropolises.
Indeed, last year, one of my friends in Changsha told me Sky City had failed to get the necessary building permits, and construction had been halted.
Well, it turns out the main problem was its colossal height. A 202-story Sky City would poke its head right into flight paths around Huanghua International Airport, and aviation authorities nixed that idea. Sky City was in fact completed this February, but at much more modest height — and called Mini Sky City.
The project is the brainchild of Broad Group’s CEO, Zhang Yue, who wants to turn the construction industry on its ear by prefabricating tall, sustainable buildings and erecting them in record time.
Mini Sky City, 57 stories tall on the outskirts of Changsha, took 19 days from laying the foundation to topping it off.
In a profile of Zhang earlier this month, the BBC called his concept, “flatpack skyscrapers” — the IKEA furniture concept made large.
But Zhang also wants to build sustainable structures that are more energy-efficient — Broad Group also manufactures refrigeration and air conditioning equipment — and less harmful to the environment. The prefab concept is supposed to be less wasteful and construction sites will be easier to clean up than with traditional building methods.
Mini Sky City, which comprises homes, shops and offices, is supposed to be a “vertical village,” where ideally one’s commute to work would be by elevator.
It remains to be seen whether the concept will work out, given the overabundance of empty apartment blocks and office towers in Changsha and elsewhere in China. But if Zhang can managed to pull it off, he may be building his super-tall Sky City later on, but away from flight paths.