YUEYANG: As a crane lowered a steel-and-concrete slab onto support pillars, construction workers swarmed around to bolt it down - a choreography of mad-dash steps against a backdrop of firecrackers, and a sacrificed cow, to herald China’s latest “instant building”.
The three-story structure was just a side note to a 30-story hotel built in 15 days outside in Hunan province in December. Both are examples of the streamlined construction being pioneered by China’s Broad Sustainable Building (BSB).
“There is an urgent need for construction security, especially energy-saving in construction, and this touches on conserving materials,” Zhang Yue, Broad Group’s founder and chairman, said.
Over the last decade China has seen one of the biggest construction booms in history to house a surging urban population and an expanding industrial sector. But with that construction have come worries about environmental destruction, waste and shoddy buildings. Zhang argues his buildings represent just the opposite.
Zhang said he had been appaled at how many poorly constructed buildings collapsed in the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province that left more than 87,000 dead or missing.
“To truly safeguard humanity, and guarantee we live in security, regardless of where, structures should be all-steel construction,” said Zhang.
Despite an image of assembly-line flimsiness, prefabrication can contribute to higher-quality construction, which in turn improves efficiency with less energy consumption.
The approach is relatively straightforward. Workers prefabricate flat modules at two factories in Yueyang. The tops of the modules, the largest of which measure about 4 x 15 metres, are covered with flooring. On the undersides forming the ceiling of the floor below, air and water pipes are pre-installed, to be connected once the modules are in place. BSB estimates it produces 90 percent of its buildings in the plants.
The process also leaves little trash behind. “We have only 1 per cent of construction waste at building sites,” said Shang Dayong, a worker from Ningxia province. These buildings, can be torn down and rebuilt elsewhere.
Zhang has bigger plans. He has his eyes on a 50-storey quick-build structure in the near future.