We managed to ignore all the reports this week about the start of construction on Sky City, a planned 838-meter structure in Changsha, Hunan province that, if completed, would be the tallest building in the world. If. It was supposed to be done in March. It was supposed to be done in three months. It was supposed to be a trailblazer for prefab technology. It was always supposed to be something grander than it ever could be. Just take a look at the picture above, variations of which have been sent to reporters everywhere. It’s a castle in the clouds, a dream that will never be realized.
All work has been stopped, reports AFP, “because [builders] did not complete the required procedures for seeking approval to start construction,” the Xiaoxiang Morning Post newspaper said. The largest building in the world isn’t allowed off the ground because of paperwork? Right. Either someone didn’t get paid off, or this is the city’s way of saving face as it cuts its losses.
For what it’s worth, the company behind the project, Broad Group, had a spokesperson say that it had the required permits. What it never had, however, was the support it needed.
The People’s Daily, the official paper of China’s ruling Communist Party, has criticised the project, calling it “blind worship for ultra-high skyscrapers” on Sina Weibo.
Global Times wasn’t much kinder, either, in a story titled, “Questions asked over quick construction of world’s tallest building”:
In addition, BSB faces questions over whether its steel framework is safe and stable enough to build the 838-meter ultrahigh building.
Experts from Hubei Housing and Urban-Rural Development Department held a review meeting over BSB’s steel framework in October last year, and said that they believe that this type of steel framework can only be used for buildings lower than 100 meters tall.
If you intend to build the highest structure in the world without Beijing’s support, you’re dreaming.
Finally, here’s a Quartz article for your consideration:
Broad seems confident it can pull this off. “We are the pioneers, the pioneers of men,” sings a chorus in hardhats on Broad’s website. “We are the geniuses, the geniuses of technology.”
Not everyone is so sure. It’s not clear that Broad Group can afford its $1.47 billion price tag, say Chinese critics, and constructing in such haste compromises safety. On top of that, there’s no actual need for Sky City.
Maybe Sky City will be finished sometime in the future. For the present, however, we’re going to go back to forgetting anyone ever thought it could exist.