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Sky City One Postponed?

The sky city is an urban engineering concept that essentially consists of building a single super structure that could literally house an entire city. Homes, workplaces, stores, schools, and recreation areas would all be in the same colossal building. The idea is seen as a way of dealing with population density issues in various places in the [...]

The sky city is an urban engineering concept that essentially consists of building a single super structure that could literally house an entire city. Homes, workplaces, stores, schools, and recreation areas would all be in the same colossal building. The idea is seen as a way of dealing with population density issues in various places in the world, and has been floating around East Asia since 1989. Last year, a construction company called Broad Sustainable Building announced that they were building the first sky city in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province.

The project was dubbed, unsurprisingly, Sky City One (天空城市; pinyin: tiānkōng chéngshì), and its aim is not only to be the first sky city, but also, at the request of Changsha officials, the tallest building in the world. Proposed to rise to 2,749 feet, it would be 27 feet higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

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When completed, Sky City One should be able to house 100,000 residents and myriad businesses and offices within its 220 stories. The project has been sold as an environment friendly response to China’s increased urbanization, traffic, population, and pollution crises. The plan is to have this behemoth “car free city” to be equipped with all the latest eco-friendly and energy efficient architectural accessories and strategies.

On top of this already ground breaking proposal, the construction firm claims that they will build it in just 90 days. For reference, it took over five years to build the Burj Khalifa.

From Wired:

So far, Broad has built 16 structures in China, plus another in Cancun. They are fabricated in sections at two factories in Hunan, roughly an hour’s drive from Broad Town. From there the modules—complete with preinstalled ducts and plumbing for electricity, water, and other infrastructure—are shipped to the site and assembled like Legos. The company is in the process of franchising this technology to partners in India, Brazil, and Russia. What it’s selling is the world’s first standardized skyscraper, and with it, Zhang aims to turn Broad into the McDonald’s of the sustainable building industry.

From Arch Daily:

Skeptical? BSB isn’t. They’ve used their building technique (which involves pre-fabricating and assembling up to 95% of the materials in modular form before construction even begins) to assemble a 15-story building in 6 days and a 30-story hotel in 360 hours, CNN reports. As for safety concerns, BSB has built a 30-story prototype that withstood a simulated magnitude 9 earthquake — whether the 220-story Sky City will be as secure remains to be seen, but BSB certainly seems confident.

From Cnet News:

Over the last few days, rumors swirling in the Chinese media said that construction on the super tower could actually take up to 210 days, but Broad Group executives denied the claim. The developer insists Sky City remains on track for the 90-day goal and noted that foundation work should start at the end of this month after the Chinese government approves the project.

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In late December this approval was granted, and construction was set to begin this month. But, according to a reader name Hans, who works near the site of this proposed landmark, nothing is stirring.

Sorry to bring this to you Wade, but construction on the Sky one skyscraper has still not started. I work close to the building site, and there’s no sign of it yet.

For sure, Broad Construction Group talked a big game while promoting this project, but they don’t seem to be saying too much lately. At my request for an interview, a PR rep said:

Sorry the project is still under review and evaluation, we do not accept interview at this moment. Thank you for your interest, I will reach you once we get any updated news.

I replied:

Is there any chance that the Sky City 1 project may be cancelled?

I have yet to receive a response.

I have no evidence to make this up but I have to wonder if we’re looking at another X-Seed 4000:

The X-Seed 4000 “is never meant to be built,” says Georges Binder, managing director of Buildings & Data, a firm which compiles data banks on buildings worldwide. “The purpose of the plan was to earn some recognition for the firm, and it worked.”

Lauren Hilgers at Wired also expressed some skepticism: “It’s hard to say for sure that the 16-million-square-foot plan isn’t entirely a publicity stunt.”

What’s your take? Would you want to live in a “sky city?”

Filed under: Architecture, China, Urbanization

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3547 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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8 comments… add one

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  • RootLeaf January 25, 2013, 7:58 am

    Wierd. I am kind of of the people who are trying to move away from the city to get some space, air, green, silence and peace. And I am aware that many people are trying to get into the city despite suffering hardships which for me are kind of beyond the pain threshold. Like moths to a hot light. Sensible? Honestly I think NOT. But, the fact remains. So build it! Why they want to live there is beyond me. Sorry, but somebody had to say it!

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    • Vagabond Journey January 25, 2013, 8:35 pm

      @RootLeaf For sure. But imagine how much easier it would be to get away from urban life if these things were built all over the place, condensing the population all together 🙂

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  • mercury January 25, 2013, 4:53 pm

    I have no idea if sky city will come to pass or not. But I would love to live in an American version of sky city. No need for cars, no commute, everything you need in one building surrounded by green space. Sounds almost utopian. I suspect costs would be ridiculous, that would be the real drawback.

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  • mercury January 25, 2013, 4:53 pm

    I have no idea if sky city will come to pass or not. But I would love to live in an American version of sky city. No need for cars, no commute, everything you need in one building surrounded by green space. Sounds almost utopian. I suspect costs would be ridiculous, that would be the real drawback.

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    • Vagabond Journey January 25, 2013, 8:24 pm

      Yes, there are major benefits to such an urban plan. Imagine all the space it could free up for farming, recreation, or just be left fallow (probably best of all).
       
      I have some big doubts though about the long term success of such an initiative though. High-rise living tends to create sort of an “every man for themselves” type of perspective and common areas become real disgusting real fast. The last high-rise I lived in was almost literally falling apart. The common areas were disgusting, their was always urine, puke, feces in the stairwell, pieces of the ceiling were falling it, and there were rats all over the place. The interesting thing was that this place had mostly middle class residents whose actual apartments were extremely well kept. I fear that this Sky City could become a “sky ghetto” real fast.

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    • Vagabond Journey January 25, 2013, 8:32 pm

      Yes, there are major benefits to such an urban plan. Imagine all the space it could free up for farming, recreation, or just be left fallow (probably best of all). It could be a truly amazing way to structure cities if it could be done well. It would also be really great to live in a place where everything was in proximity to everything else — it would be like living in a community again. 
       
      Well, if a community ethic could be created in a super, super high-rise. 
       
      I have some big doubts though about the long term success of such an initiative though. High-rise living tends to create sort of an “every man for themselves” type of ethic and common areas become real disgusting real fast. The last high-rise I lived in was almost literally falling apart. The common areas were disgusting, their was always urine, puke, feces in the stairwell, pieces of the ceiling were falling it, and there were rats all over the place. The interesting thing was that this place had mostly middle class residents whose actual apartments were extremely well kept. I fear that this Sky City could become a “sky ghetto” real fast. 
       
      In terms of expenses they are saying that it’s going to be designed for “mixed incomes.” How this plays itself out will be interesting.

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      • mercury January 26, 2013, 1:16 pm

        @Vagabond Journey i appreciate what you say about about a lack of community experience in high rises. I last lived in a high rise 10 years ago and had a rather better experience than you, but appreciate that community identity can’t be taken for granted or expected to form spontaneously as it does in small villages. Rather it must be the result of conscious intention and design. But I believe a mixed use high-rise which included businesses especially cafes, coffee shops, bars, night-clubs, art galleries, lectures etc. Would have a reasonable chance of forming a cohesive community rather than each occupant locking themselves in their cell and being isolated from everyone else.

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        • Vagabond Journey January 26, 2013, 8:33 pm

          Good point about mixed used highrises with places to hang out. Then there would be an emphasis on keeping the appearance of the place up and it not falling into a “that’s not my responsibility” type of disrepair. Yes, I suppose the “sky city” concept is different from a regular high-rise.

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