World’s tallest building halted over missing permit

By Zhang Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-26 0:53:02

The photo taken on July 22 shows the construction site of Sky City. Photo: Xinhua

The Sky City project in Changsha, Hunan Province, which had been expected to set a new record for the world's tallest building, has been suspended on the grounds that it did not have the required permits, just days after the groundbreaking ceremony was held.

The ambitious project came amid fierce competition between Chinese cities to build tall skyscrapers, and raised public doubts over safety standards given its extremely short construction time frame.

The building, which had been intending to incorporate offices, hospitals and hotels, was set to reach as high as 838 meters, 10 meters higher than the world's current tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

On Saturday, the Broad Group, which is in charge of the project, laid the groundwork for the building, which will cost 9 billion yuan ($1.47 billion).

"It is illegal for a corporation to begin construction without a permit," Li Xing, a press official from Wangcheng district, Changsha, where the building is located, told the Global Times Thursday, adding that construction will not be able to go ahead until the Broad Group obtains the necessary permits from relevant departments.

The schedule for the construction process is just seven months, a stark contrast to other buildings of this height around the world which have taken five to 10 years, according to a project introduction on the Broad Group's website.

It has attracted significant concerns over safety issues, with many worrying the construction standards will fall short.

"The safety assessments are extremely strict in terms of skyscrapers as the regular firefighting devices cannot reach that high," an expert with a research institution affiliated with the Beijing Construction Engineering Group, who specializes in high-rise buildings, told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Thursday.

She added that professional assessments regarding quality are also complicated, including appraisals for concrete, the foundation and steel, and the construction plans fall under supervision by different kinds of committees of experts during various phases of construction.

"Usually, a building over 600 meters will need at least one year to finish the construction of its foundation alone. How can a company finish the task in merely seven months?" the expert asked.

The Broad Group attracted global attention last year for building a 30-story tower in just 15 days, using prefabricated units stacked on top of one another, AFP reported.

It had planned to use the same technique to assemble Sky City.

China has already become home to six of the world's 10 tallest buildings, with four of them on the mainland, according to statistics from Forbes China.

But more are about to emerge according to a 2012 report on Chinese skyscrapers compiled by Motian City, a group that studies the relationship between skyscrapers and urban economies.

According to the report, the number of buildings over 152 meters on the Chinese mainland will reach 1,318 by the end of 2022. It also said that in 2012, more than 1.7 trillion yuan was invested in building skyscrapers in the mainland.

"Many local governments are eager to have these kinds of landmarks, considering them symbols of wealth and competitiveness. It has been like a contest," Gu Wenxuan, former secretary general of the Chinese Society for Urban Studies, told the Global Times Thursday, adding that these buildings might damage the urban landscape, and their actual usage is often limited.

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