WHEN it comes to building large buildings in the short term, Chinese construction companies are second to none.
Thus, workers in Wuhan within eight days in February 2020 built a hospital with beds for about a thousand patients, which caused a sensation in the world media.
Ten floors in just over a day
Another lightning fast construction project is now celebrated. In Changshi, the capital of Hunan Province, a ten-story building called Living Building has grown in just over a day – and is ready to move in.
According to the client, Broad Group, this is the “shortest construction time in the world” for buildings of that size. That’s not all. From the modules used, a skyscraper up to 200 floors high could be created in record time, and thus living space for the entire village, the company claims in a video showing construction in rapid motion.
This sounds cheap, and a bit suspicious when you know that Broad Group announced a modular tower with more than 200 floors in 2012, which, among other things, was never built due to static uncertainties, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) states in an article about this building. .
European construction standards are different
FAZ asked Roland Bechmann, a member of the Management Board of the well-known German construction company Werner Sobek AG in Stuttgart, for comment, who has certain doubts.
“The project does not comply with construction standards in Germany, but it puts a finger in the wound,” the engineer told FAZ.
In Germany, on the other hand, construction is generally too slow and too materially intensive. “Large downtown projects with a construction time of one and a half years are a huge burden on the environment,” points out Bechmann, who believes the Hunan building is “a contribution to the debate about how things could be different”.
After the unsuccessful construction of the tower almost ten years ago, Broad Group has invested a lot of effort in developing its special modular system. It uses standardized tank-size modules made of stainless steel measuring 12.19 meters (length), 2.44 meters (width) and three meters (height). They can be folded and connected by folding the walls. The balconies are also unfolded. The supply lines and electricity are already in the walls, the interior works are finished when the units arrive at the construction site, where they basically just need to be connected.
The problem is that the Broad Group building does not take into account the relationship of urban development to the environment, which is a very relevant topic in Europe. For example, sound insulation does not meet the German standard. And steel as the main material does not offer a very good indoor climate.
Special “sandwich system”
Nevertheless, the structure of the module is still interesting. The walls and floors were made of two stainless steel plates, which separated hundreds of small stainless steel pipes. Thanks to this sandwich system, the panels are ten times lighter and a hundred times stronger than conventional floorboards, claims Broad Group.
Also, it is much cheaper to produce steel modules in China because they are produced in large numbers. In terms of life cycle, steel handles better than concrete because it can be melted and recycled, but lags far behind wood.