World's tallest skyscraper to be built
with ready-made 'Meccano' pieces


Broad Sustainable Building skyscraper

News: a Chinese company plans to build the world's tallest skyscraper in just seven months using pre-fabricated components slotted together like a Meccano toy.

Above: photograph is by Noah Sheldon

Construction firm Broad Sustainable Building has already successfully demonstrated its approach on a smaller scale by constructing a 30-storey tower in 15 days, but now the company has set its sights on erecting a 220-storey tower in just seven months.

Broad Sustainable Building

Above: Broad's 30-storey tower during construction last year

On completion, the skyscraper would be taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and include schools, a hospital, 17 helipads and apartments for over 30,000 people. The foundation is scheduled to be laid in November with a completion date set for March 2013.

Traditional building methods waste both time and materials, Broad's CEO Zhang Yue argues. His pre-fabricated towers are designed with a different load-bearing structure, which uses less concrete and steel and can be produced in the safe confines of the factory, ensuring consistent quality.

Broad Sustainable Building, photo by Reuters Terril Yue Jones

Above: workers constructing Broad's 30-storey tower last year

Zhang made his estimated $1.2 billion fortune on air conditioning systems before turning his attentions to construction. A passionate environmentalist, he intends to help China build a future of clean air and sustainable living. Even Broad's employees must comply with his vision, abiding by strict guidelines laid out in a manual issued by Zhang that include tips on conserving energy and brushing your teeth.

Perhaps not content with plans to construct the world's tallest building, the company already has its sights on an even more audacious project – a two-kilometre high skyscraper with 636 floors.

We recently reported that nine of the 20 tallest buildings under construction in the world are located in China.

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  • "schools, a hospital, 17 helipads and apartments for over 30,000 people"

    Schools – plural?! SEVENTEEN helipads?! Wow. I guess the need for land is over if we can build that much into the sky.

  • I don't know which makes me feel more ill, the vertigo or the design.

    • For me it's the bucolic background in their rendering, suddenly violated by that monstrous building, as if it had suddenly arisen from the very ground.

    • Matt Spaulding

      What design?

  • dhaad

    Seven months… where I work you can’t even build a private house that fast without cheating on something… like quality!

    • Marco

      You can, easilty. As long as you use dry construction with pre-fabricated elements it really does not take long to assemble a house.

      The 'cheating' part is that your building time does not magically disappear, it is simply displaced from the site to a factory. But construction methods like prefab wooden frame construction and the use of constructive and pre-finished sandwich panels are quite normal these days and make the construction time a LOT shorter.

  • ArchiTah

    The technique is definitely the future but if architects do not start to invest some research into this, we are gonna end up with buildings as awful as this and architecture as a profession in serious danger!

    • initialsBB

      What’s new about prefabricated structures? Jean Prouvé did it decades ago with great designs too… but not many people listened.

  • Minitruth, anyone?

  • Adam B

    So it’s going to sit in the middle of a field? I think it’s going to be the exact result of all the 2008 Beijing Olympic buildings they produced: displace a couple of million people, build a building, forget all about it and then let it rot to pieces.

  • Carl

    If the first step is with a building that is perhaps blunt and rough (or merely square) enabling a future of macro-structures and enterprise, then so be it. I’d say that 99.99% of you all are currently residing within a box, each edge square perpendicular to the next, if you’re lucky. The quality of the structure is via the controlled construction environment, and the economy via the scale – which is of benefit to the environment.

    The question that should be asked in my opinion, is, how else can CAD/CAM and mass-produced products be of benefit to and be utilised by society via architecture? I’m certain that there are an exhaustive amount of interlocking structures that could be formulated for any given reason.

    The proposal is an engineering and production truth – that should really be explored.

  • Put a #skyscraper for 30.000 people somewhere in the fields? Yes! It’s a town in itself, at least a small one. Do you want to live in the shadow of such a giant? You don’t need another town nearby.

    The design is unpleasant? Maybe, but the first towers constructed in the old style were unpleasant, too. There are chances to improve this technology. So let’s stop snivelling but start researching and inventing.

  • John Napier

    Sustainable? Overglazed, high A/C loads. Very ugly. Overbuilt and speculative. A skyscraper needs to attract quality tenants long term, the image of quality is essential. Slow down, build for people and city life. The only meeting place is the lift and the lobby? Construction innovation is the key interest in this story.

  • It just feels like a technical exercise, resembling a 16-bit version of the Burj Khalifa.

  • andreas

    WTF… how is this related to architecture?

  • Hope it’s not going to be another Tower of Babel.

  • You

    The workers' uniforms in the third picture bring to mind Connery-era Bond villain henchmen. I suppose that's fitting, given the level of villainy required to build something like this.

  • cethuesen

    Well, at least the building consequently goes for the cheap look. Design, construction and quality, even the rendering looks like it was made in AutoCAD 2.0

  • eisuke

    The BIGGEST problem with offsite construction is that if the off-site construction goes bust mid-construction, the entire thing has to be torn down because all fabricators tend to patent their designs. A second contractor can’t simply take over the fabrication process in the same way a traditional construction builder can. Let’s just hope these guys can withstand the economic recession.

    As for the design… I seriously don’t believe it’s using less material. Just look at the cluttered structure… and as others have pointed out, it’s in the middle of nowhere! Personally not a fan. Sorry!

  • Tellsitlikeitis

    This will never get built! That CEO is just a bigmouth who knows how to play the media.

  • Kenneth Smythe

    Individualism expressed as a psychosis and in China of all places.

  • first reaction

    How is Zhang claiming to be sustainable? Skyscrapers are hardly sustainable, and definitely not this one, especially in a social sustainability context. I can hardly imagine living in such a dense vertical environment with no connection to land outside.

    And if there’s so much land around it as the render has suggested, why the hell do they need to build that high?

    Just ridiculous.

  • kenneth beirne

    Joke of a scheme! No design thought ‘pack em and stack em’. Also the floor plan will be a forest of columns, and the amount of steel that will be consumed will be huge.

  • Koolhaas is correct: “The skyscraper is no longer an interesting form.”

  • Sensei Tran

    Is there no aesthetic appeal? I don’t think the bigger the better. The design does not solve anything. Prefab elements isn’t a new idea. I wonder how long they had this Sky City in the works. Maybe planned it out in three months, like how fast it’s gonna built.

  • ahugrowl

    This is easily the ugliest building I’ve ever seen in my life – it shouldn’t even be on a design blog.

  • Citation: “A passionate environmentalist, he intends to help China build a future of clean air and sustainable living”. It’s a lie or he must be blind or something, but I think he means the opposite!

    China already has polluted air. Don’t make it worse then it already is! Use that money to restore the existing buildings, make the inhabitable, invest in clean air filter systems, real sustainable projects and reduce the air conditioners from the facade to zero! Every year in China there are millions of these placed on buildings and houses, the ‘effect’ influences greenhouse gases, this means more heat and polluted air outside, dehydration of water, bad health and dirty buildings with high maintenance costs! That’s why they don’t want to clean it. So snap out and stop dreaming big, fix the matter first before moving forward.

    Not only China but everyone!

    • Darren

      The problem is, China refuses to admit that human pollution and emissions are damaging the environment, so until they accept this and realise the emissions they are producing, it won’t happen and they will continue to build superscrapers that look like glass boxes placed on top of each other.