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The Instant Skyscraper
September 26, 2012 10:29 PM   Subscribe

"Zhang Yue, founder and chairman of Broad Sustainable Building, is not a particularly humble man. A humble man would not have erected, on his firm’s corporate campus in the Chinese province of Hunan, a classical palace and a 130-foot replica of an Egyptian pyramid. A humble man, for that matter, would not have redirected Broad from its core business—manufacturing industrial air-conditioning units—to invent a new method of building skyscrapers. And a humble man certainly wouldn’t be putting up those skyscrapers at a pace never achieved in history." [Meet the Man Who Built a 30-Story Building in 15 Days]
posted by vidur (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Building skyscrapers on farmland is really bad urban planning.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:11 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It’s a very interesting story. It’s a pity about the megalomaniacal aspect of working for Broad, and as the article notes, these are very ugly and plain boxes. But the relative greenness and cheapness of the design is great.
posted by wilful at 11:20 PM on September 26, 2012


Am I the only one who thinks he's building it in the middle of farmland so that in case something similar to this collapse happens, he won't kill that many people?
posted by astapasta24 at 11:23 PM on September 26, 2012


astapasta24, TFA says that he was inspired by the collapse of buildings during an earthquake, so I'd hope that his engineering is up to snuff. As to the farmland, China is a complete clusterfuck as far as urban planning.

It's really a modest development here -- modular construction has already taken over much of the residential construction industry. I'm sure there are esthetic complaints to be made, but my greater concern is that this might enable the building construction industry, especially in a place like China, to quickly outstrip the available infrastructure -- most of which is still built the old, boring, and slow way (apart from planning, land acquisition, and other time-intensive parts of the process). The plus here might be that a sort of just-in-time model could develop where deconstruction would be almost as easy and a building could in effect be carted around as the need arose.
posted by dhartung at 12:28 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why the best way to live is to go as fast as possible. The building is boring, ugly, and soulless. But it came together so fast!
posted by Foam Pants at 1:09 AM on September 27, 2012


astapasta24, TFA says that he was inspired by the collapse of buildings during an earthquake, so I'd hope that his engineering is up to snuff. As to the farmland, China is a complete clusterfuck as far as urban planning.

I hope so too, but who's to say his building won't topple over from something like shoddy foundation work, which supposedly claimed the building I linked to? The factory made buildings may be perfect, but that's not going to matter if the foundation isn't up to par.

On another note, if he is truly concerned about the amount of waste used in construction, why is he even building this skyscraper? Who would use this building? It'd be really interesting if they also turned the building into a massive experiment into vertical farming...
posted by astapasta24 at 1:46 AM on September 27, 2012


The buildings are designed to withstand pretty intense earthquakes.
but who's to say his building won't topple over from something
Who's to say that about any building? But for some reason a bunch of people in this thread have some kind of weird aesthetic objection to the building, therefore, it must be flimsy and will fall apart. Such is the power of your architectural tastes, you can tell just how poorly engineers a building is just by looking at it!
posted by delmoi at 2:14 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


But for some reason a bunch of people in this thread I have some kind of weird aesthetic objection to the building, therefore, it must be flimsy and will fall apart. Such is the power of your my architectural tastes, you I can tell just how poorly engineers a building is just by looking at it!

I think you're confusing 2 separate things going on in this thread. I'm skeptical about how well the building is built, while others are concerned about the aesthetic of it. There hasn't been any relation of oh it's ugly so it must be flimsy until you brought it up.
posted by astapasta24 at 2:26 AM on September 27, 2012


After watching the video of the T30 hotel built in 30 days, I don't see much of an aesthetic difference compared to the average medium-tall hotel building. If they hadn't put that strange pyramid as a lobby, it could have been elegant, even. The steel supports on the inside are reminiscent of old post-and-beam or Fachwerk construction. So, basically, one could get used to them. Of course, that's just based on a few photographs.
posted by romanb at 3:14 AM on September 27, 2012


MetaFilter: boring, ugly, and soulless. But it came together so fast!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:55 AM on September 27, 2012


It's not so much the aesthetics (I think any modular building could be made beautiful) as the acoustics. One of the benefits of concrete construction is that it provides an effective sound barrier between floors, between rooms and between the inhabited space and the mechanical spaces where the boilers and machinery and ductwork dwell. The story alludes to this: Inside, the hallways are uncomfortably narrow; climbing the central stairway feels like clanging up the stairs of a stadium bleacher.
Another concern is fire. Steel structures require (or they do in the West) fireproofing treatment; it's not mentioned how Broad's system accomplishes this. The difficulty and fiddliness of applying this stuff to a steel structure, as well as the acoustic, anti-vibrational and overall solidness of concrete, often negate the use of a steel structure, even if the material cost is lower.
But sure something like this can handle an earthquake. That's because it's so loose and flexible, like a drunk falling down a flight of stairs.
posted by Flashman at 5:17 AM on September 27, 2012


I applaud this guy's mechanical ability, but I have to say the building is pretty damn soulless. Buildings like that are bad for their inhabitants as they are designed for mechanical efficiency rather than human social needs. As a hotel, T30 is okay, but I'd hate to live or work in it.

People need to live and work near the ground, to interact with their community on a regular basis, and to be exposed to an organic, slowly changing, natural world in order to be completely at ease.

It would be nice if Broad would apply their techniques to structures that are not just efficient and economical, but sociologically sound and spiritually healthy.

However I am not certain that a corporation with an army-like institutional style with a demagogue dear leader is going to be the place that develops such a thing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:07 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


From that video, it looks like the crane is the bottleneck. They should design a four-armed crane --- it wouldn't need a counterweight, would give four times the lifting throughput, and would save time by virtue of spending less time rotating. Normal construction projects wouldn't be able to use all four arms at the same time, but in this case each side of the building is identical and the crane's sitting in the center...
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2012


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