Are cities joining the mile-high club?

city sky

Looking at the statistics it seems that the eastern world is at war for the crown of the tallest building in the world.

Currently being built in Changsha, China is the soon to be new tallest building; Sky City. Only 10m taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the current tallest building, Sky City will boast a height of 838m. http://www.broad.com:8089/english/down/en_sky_city.pdf

However, Broad Sustainable Construction of China want to better Adrian Smith’s Burj Khalifa in more than one way, and are attempting to assemble the mammoth sky scraper in just 3 months. This seems an extremely ambitious feat to achieve given that smaller buildings have taken considerably longer to construct, for example The Burj Khalifa took 5 years to build. They are proposing to complete this project on schedule by using a structure which contains components that will “slot together” and have been pre-fabricated off-site in 4 months. Normally, I would applaud the use of pre-fabricated components as I believe this way of building holds a multitude of advantages to the builder, end user and environment. However, for a 220 floor sky scraper there are many issues that will need to be considered in depth and a pre-fabricated system will not provide this level of detail.

I cannot deny that they have thought through the sustainable aspect of this building, and it is commendable that the building is designed to only need a 5th of the amount of energy required to power a conventional sky scraper. However, I believe they are trying to run before they can walk; It would be enough to have any one of these aspects attributed to Sky City, instead of attempting to be the fastest, tallest and most sustainable in one foul swoop.

Undoubtedly compromises are going to have to be made and it will be interesting to see which areas suffer neglect.

The bid for the next engineering masterpiece will begin on the completion of Sky City and I hope that the quality of architecture won’t diminish further. I think it takes more than height to become a striking building, and visually speaking, is there anything else about Sky City that you might admire or be inspired by? Through history, money has always dictated the architectural growth throughout the world and, more recently, the rise of the skyscraper. Said architecture has often shown us elaborate design and artistic flare, but it concerns me that this trend is dying out. As economies grow quickly it is worrying that they will lose sight of what they are leaving behind as their architectural legacy and be too concerned with the insignificant trivial awards that are attached to these types of buildings. It is important that architecture continues to be a well respected discipline and one that can be admired by all. Is architecture becoming less about art and more about engineering?

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