May 14 - A Chinese company builds a low-carbon, three-story building from scratch in just over a week using a unique system of prefabricated modules, but its ambitious CEO has much larger plans. Maxim Duncan reports.
We all know China likes to do things fast, but this is no ordinary construction site. It's an 'instant building' made by Broad Sustainable Building, a company which wants to revolutionize China's urban landscape. In little over a week, it will be a three-story, low-carbon canteen that would have taken around a year to complete using traditional methods. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) BROAD SUSTAINABLE BUILDING FIRST CONSTRUCTION SITE DIRECTOR XIAO CHANGGENG SAYING: "The entire building process is extremely simple," this site director says. "And it doesn't require very experienced workers. It's very much like a child using modeling blocks to build a house" Plans to finish the main structure in 24-hours were dashed by heavy rain, a delivery problem and a national holiday. In fact, over 90 percent of the work happens in a factory producing modules that later slot into place on site like flat-pack furniture. All the piping and cables needed for a functioning building are already installed in each module before they head to the site. All this is the brainchild of Zhang Yue, the company's founder, who became a billionaire selling low energy air-conditioning. Last year the company built a 30-story hotel in just 15 days, but Zhang has much bigger plans: he now wants to build a 220-story building - potentially the world's tallest -- in just four months. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) BROAD GROUP CEO ZHANG YUE SAYING: "In the past, when we said that in a day or so we could build a six story building, or in more than 10 days we could build a 30-story building, everyone said it was impossible, especially as we were building these buildings very cheaply, using even less money than is needed to build a traditional one. People say 'You're using so much so-called technology, isn't it expensive?' I say: 'firstly, I can build it that quickly, secondly, I can build it that cheaply, and thirdly, once it's built, it's more comfortable than the rest." Zhang says his buildings use just a fifth of the energy of conventional ones, thanks to thermal insulation, multi-paned windows and other energy saving features. After three days, workers start fixing wall panels and laying floors, but it will be another five days before it's complete. That's way off the original target, but the company insists that with a bit more practice, 24-hours should be no problem at all. Maxim Duncan, for Reuters