Structural Digest

Looking At The Structures That Define Us

The Future of High Rise Construction

In the new age of technology, the concept of “slow and steady wins the race” is becoming less and less applicable. In particular, China has recently constructed a series of buildings using pre-fabricated modular sections, cutting the time spent on the construction site to a matter of days.

The world was shocked when they first saw this phenomenon performed in Changasha China, where a thirty storey building was constructed in just fifteen days. If you have yet to see it, here is the amazing time-lapsed footage of the construction process:

The foundation for the structure was already installed prior to the thirty day count, reducing the overall “construction time”. In addition, the project used pre-fabricated modules that were constructed in a manufacturing plant and later shipped to the construction site. Once the pieces were on site, it was just a matter of putting the pieces in place (similar to a standard LEGO set).

The company behind all this, Broad Sustainable Building, is part of Broad Group which also works on a number of different products (i.e. Air Conditioning Equipment, Air Quality Technology, etc.). Their website has very minimal details, but claims that their buildings can withstand magnitude 9 earthquakes. They also allege that they are 5 times more energy efficient, have 20 times purer air, and use 6 times less material. To find out more about Broad Group, you can visit their website at the following link:

Broad Group Website

In addition to this, construction has begun on the soon-to-be tallest building in the world, the aptly named Sky City.

Sky City. Photo Credit: Web Odysseium

Sky City, which will cost less than 1 billion dollars US, will rise to a height of 838 meters (10 meters taller than the Burj Khalifa). The building is set to be completed in April 2014, less than a year before the start of construction. To put that into perspective, the Burj Khalifa took more than five years to build and had a total cost of 1.5 billion dollars US (see CNN Report).

It is quite amazing to think that the processes used in construction have been nearly stagnant for thousands of years. The Egyptians employed a similar style of on-site construction when they began building the pyramids. Over the years, construction times for the worlds largest structures have reduced from 20 years to just over 5. With the new prefabricated structures, construction times have been reduced to less than one year, a truly magnificent feat. This allows engineers to think both ‘bigger’ and ‘higher’ as the cost of constructing buildings using the new technique is greatly reduced.

The concept of prefabrication is not new, but employing it at such a scale is quite revolutionary. It takes the work typically performed on the construction site and moves it into the much more comfortable, controlled environment of the manufacturing plant. As this industry grows, there will be much debate as to which construction process provides the safest, well-rounded structures. Either way, the entire industry is in need of a much needed facelift, and this new process may be just the spark it’s been waiting for.

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One comment on “The Future of High Rise Construction

  1. ramigmansour
    August 6, 2013

    The below article from the Smithsonian provides an interesting perspective on this topic:

    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2013/08/the-skyscraper-of-the-future-may-be-built-like-legos/

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