There are many ways to get your message out to people, but one of the most impressive has to be making a building magically appear in less than a week. China's Broad Group wanted to showcase the speed and efficiency of its new construction technology, so it constructed the Ark Hotel in Changsha in record time. A team of 200 workers erected the 15 story internal structure in just 46.5 hours! External construction took another 90 hours, for a total of less than 6 days. According to Broad, the hotel is built to withstand a 9.0 earthquake while using one sixth the material and costing 20% less. They plan on constructing 15 similar structures in China and 30 more abroad. If successful, this could create a new wave of innovation in industrial construction. Watch the building of the Ark in the time lapse video below. Can you imagine leaving home for a week only to return and find a hotel in your neighborhood has sprung up out of nowhere?
As you can see in the video, Broad is cheating a little. The foundation and other ground construction was completed before main construction was timed. Also, the building is constructed from prefabricated parts which were manufactured off site and likely took weeks to fully produce. Still, even though there are hidden temporal costs, the sheer speed of the building's assembly is amazing!
However, speed is only one of the features that Broad is promoting with the construction of the Ark Hotel. The Chinese company is also out to prove that their buildings are simply better - for construction crews, the environment, and residents. Broad has tested its construction methods and claims they can stand up to an earthquake that measures 9.0 on the Richter Scale. If true, the Ark Hotel is a pretty hearty structure. Despite the speedy build time, no workers were injured in the Ark's assembly. The building itself uses one sixth the materials of a comparable facility with 15 stories and 600 square meters per floor (~5500 square feet). Waste generated by construction was only 1% of the total weight, not including waste generated during prefabrication. Ark Hotel was built to be extremely energy efficient with 15cm thermal insulation, triple pane windows, external solar shading, fresh air heat recovery, and LED lighting. Broad claims that it is roughly five times more energy efficient than similar structures. The air inside the building is supposedly 20 times cleaner than the outside thanks to a triple purification process.
These features of Broad's construction methods were more clearly showcased in the pavilion they built for the massive Shanghai World Expo 2010. The majority of that construction was accomplished in just one day! In the video below, you'll see the Broad Pavilion going up in 24 hours, as well as some closer looks at the various energy saving and environmentally friendly techniques.
Of all of the advantages to Broad's streamlined construction techniques, the one I'd be most excited about would actually be the air quality control. No sooner had the Shanghai Expo ended than China stopped tightly controlling air pollution in the area. The result was a massive upswing in air pollution. Suddenly that "20 times air purification" doesn't sound like nearly enough.
No matter which features of the Ark Hotel and Broad Pavilion appeal to you, it's clear that China has hit upon some innovative methods to improve their industrial construction. None of these techniques are really new, but Broad has placed them all in one place, and shown them off with spectacular building speed. That speed could be a selling point, but I think it's the improvements in efficiency and safety that will really impact people around the world. We already have the means to overhaul our buildings and improve energy efficiency, but it may take projects like the Ark Hotel to convince developers to invest the money needed to proceed with these new types of construction.
It should be illuminating to see if Broad actually manages to build another 45 such structures in China and elsewhere. A hotel going up in a week is cool, but if it doesn't lead to some real change in the way we house humanity, it's little more than a publicity stunt. As the global population continues to grow exponentially, and increasingly become urban, we will need efficient and quick means to produce new residential and commercial spaces. Broad's methods are promising. I hope they lead to improvements that will be as helpful as their demonstrations have been spectacular.
[screen capture and video credits: DifferentEnergy]
[sources: Broad (CN)]