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4 July 2014updated 22 Oct 2020 3:55pm

The site of the world’s tallest skyscraper is currently a melon patch

It was meant to be finished, er, now.

By Barbara Speed

Sky City, a skyscraper in Changsha, China, was meant to be the tallest building in the world by now. Construction began on 20 July last year; it was originally meant to be finished by April.

In a startling display of optimism, its builders, Broad Group, claimed it could construct all 838m of the skyscraper’s frame in just 90 days, using a technique whereby steel parts are made individually and then stacked together. This is not quite as crazy as it sounds: the firm has successfully used the same technique to construct at 30-storey hotel in just 15 days.

Needless to say, 90 days has come and gone, and SkyCity has yet to reach the heavens. In fact, National Business Daily, a Shanghai newspaper, reported this week that the 20-30 per cent of the 100 acre site is now covered in water; the rest has been planted with watermelons and corn. That’s hard to visualise, so here’s a breakdown:

Construction on the site actually halted less than a month after it started. At the time Zhang Yue, the Broad Group’s chairman, told the New York Times that, despite the hiccup, he expected to finish the building in June or July 2014. He did, however, hint that all was not well, saying: “Ordinary people do not know the challenges and issues I face every single day. There are so many issues. 24 hours in a day are not enough for me to deal with all of them.” 

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One of these challenges must be keeping him up at night even now. The National Business Daily also quoted officials from a “local communal administrative committee”, who said that, a year on, Broad Group still lacks the permits it needs to continue building.

If Sky City is ever completed, it will stand 8.2m higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which is currently the tallest skyscraper in the world. The Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia is expected to stretch to 1000m, but that won’t be completed until 2019.

So Broad Group could still snatch the “world’s tallest” crown. Just give them 90 days. 

This is a preview of our new sister publication, CityMetric. We’ll be launching its website soon – in the meantime, you can follow it on Twitter and Facebook.

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