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All about China’s craze over giant skyscrapers

Chinese investors can’t stop thinking of developing increasingly taller and sleeker skyscrapers. From Shenzhen to Shanghai, from Dalian to Tianjin –without forgetting Beijing- everyone competes to get China’s tallest construction. Until another construction beats the previous record…

BEIJING – Symbols are of utter importance in China. And the best assessment to the world of the wealth of a city is to build stunning skyscrapers’ structure. With one basic concept: the highest, the better. The ‘trend’ was set up 30 years ago by Hong Kong, joined later by Shanghai. But in today China, every city dreams to have its superstructure with glitzy skyscrapers dominating their skyline.

Constructions can be seen almost in any corner of Chinese cities. Sichuan metropolis of Chongqing is for example pumping a total investment of US$ 1.7 billion into developing the 470-meter-tall Chongqing International Financial Center. Four years after the Olympics fever, Beijing dreams again to cast a shadow on its competitors. Beijing’s current tallest building – the China World Trade Center Tower 3, which is 330 meters in height, is soon to be enter into the “dark age” when the nearby “China Zun Building” due for completion in 2016 will be completed. At a height of 528-meter, China Zun takes its inspiration from the shape of an ancient Chinese wine vessel. CITIC Group, the company behind the project, is investing some US$ 3.78 billion into the structure. Construction began last year.

China Zun appears almost like a dwarf when compared to some of the other structures in the region. Just 100 km of Beijing, the city of Tianjin has a project for two giant structures: CTF Tower -at 530 meter height- is designed by world famed architecture company SOM (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill). The construction just started in May. CTF tower is certain to draw interest for its shape evocating a rocket while another Tianjing building- the Golden Finance 117– will impress more for its height at 597 meter than its basic architecture style… Both are due for completion in 2015. Still in the North, Dalian Greenland Center will stand 518 meters over the city and is expected to be completed in 2016.

The craze for the tallest buildings in China will take place between Shanghai and Shenzhen. Shanghai is looking now at getting in 2014 its Shanghai Tower. Started in 2008, the construction faced delays due to technical problems. It should reach a height of 400 meter at the end of the year before reaching its final height of 632 meters next year. It will be the world’s second highest building only surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Unfortunately for its owners, the tower will only be the tallest of China for just a year time once the Pingan IFC Tower in Shenzhen has been completed. The latter will reach the sky at 648 meter and is the work of another famed world architect cabinet Kohn Pedersen Fox.

Craze, arrogance or a bit of both? The Xiaoxiang Morning Post in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan Province –and a rather unknown city for most  travellers- will built the world’s tallest building. Proposed by the Yuanda Group, Sky City would be a 220-storey building, with a height of 838 meters, ten meters higher than Burj Khalifa. More amazing, Yuanda Group declares that the construction will take less than a year –some reports indicate two months, some other seven months. It took for the Burj Khalifa six years to be completed and four years for Taiwan’s Taipei 101, formerly the world’s highest construction. Mission impossible for Changsha ?  Most probably…

Figures released by skyscraper-observing website show that as of March 2011, Mainland China had built 350 skyscrapers higher than 152 meters, outstripping the number in the United States. The country is currently adding another 287 high-rises over the next three to four years.

Such a fever will also create problems of environmental sustainability, safety issues on construction –probably the case of the Changsha project- security issues in case of problem –such as a fire for example. And not to mention all the problems of oversupply in the market with the necessity to fill up all new offices, apartments and hotel rooms which are due to inundate the market.

Far of the legendary Asian wisdom in business, China’s speculative building boom is going unabated to cheer up some egos. Beware of Prometheus’ myth…

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