Modular, prefabricated buildings have been catching on in design communities around the world in recent years, but the building techniques are typically limited to low-rise buildings. Chinese developer Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) plans to change that with Sky City, a 220-story prefabricated skyscraper that is scheduled to break ground in November. BSB claims that prefab skyscrapers are cheaper and greener to build, but above all they can be built faster: Sky City will be the tallest building in the world, and it’s expected to take less than six months to build.
This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered BSB; last winter BSB released an astonishing time-lapse video that showed 200 workers erecting the T30 Hotel – a prefabricated 30-story tower – in just over two weeks. Not only was it built quickly, but BSB claimed that the 17,000-square-meter tower is 5 times more energy-efficient than a standard, non-prefab building, and its construction generated a fraction of the waste.
For its design issue, Wired magazine sent a reporter to China to get the scoop on Sky City and some background on BSB. Originally, the company was established as an air-conditioning company, and it currently has AC units operating in more than 70 countries around the world. But after witnessing the devastation caused by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that hit China’s Sichuan Province in 2008, Broad founder and chairman Zhang Yue began focusing on building design.
From his experience with factory assembly, Zhang believed that the cheapest, most efficient buildings could only be produced in factories, and that the process would require completely rethinking how tall buildings are structured. Since getting into the construction industry, BSB has built 16 structures in China and one in Cancun. Previously, it was reported the Sky City would be built in just 90 days, but that estimate has been adjusted. Wired reports that the entire construction process, including factory work and on-site assembly, is expected to take only seven months. But even after touring the T30 Hotel, reporter Lauren Hilgers still sounds slightly skeptical about Sky City. Will BSB be able to live up to its promises? We won’t have to wait very long to find out.