A Chinese company built a 57-storey tower in 19 days

You know you're building fast when you measure progress by the hour. Image: Broad Sustainable Building.

The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, took three years to build. The Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, took nearly six. 

But a new 57-storey tower in the Chinese city of Changshan, while not quite as tall as these monoliths, was just completed in only 19 days. That breaks down to exactly three floors a day. Which is quite an achievement.  

The tower contains 800 apartments, office space for 4,500 people, 19 large atriums to be used as public squares, and a ramp system in addition elevators, so residents can walk or ride bikes to and from their homes and offices. The building's ventilation system will also pump out pollution-free air.

It's the work of construction firm Broad Sustainable Building. The company, which specialises in eco-friendly, pre-fabricated builds, managed the amazing speed of construction by pre-building blocks in factories, then stacking and screwing them together on site – a bit like giant Lego blocks. 

Broad Sustainable Building is presumably hoping this achievement will raise their profile: it's currently angling to build Sky City,  the world's tallest skyscraper, using similar techniques, but progress has been delayed by spiraling costs.

If it goes ahead, the company claims it could spit out the 200-storey skyscraper in just 90 days. 

This timelapse video shows the insane rate of construction, along with an hour-by-hour timer: 

And if that doesn't impress you, here's an unpromising image of what those blocks look like before construction begins. 

Image: Broad Sustainable Building. 


London Overground is experimenting with telling passengers which bits of the next train is busiest

There must be a better way than this: Tokyo during a 1972 rail strike. Image: Getty.

One of the most fun things to do, for those who enjoy claustrophobia and other people’s body odour, is to attempt to use a mass transit system at rush hour.

Travelling on the Central line at 6pm, for example, gives you all sorts of exciting opportunities to share a single square inch of floor space with a fellow passenger, all the while becoming intimately familiar with any personal hygiene problems they may happen to have. On some, particularly lovely days you might find you don’t even get to do this for ages, but first have to spend some exciting time enjoying it as a spectator sport, before actually being able to pack yourself into one unoccupied cranny of a train.

But fear not! Transport for London has come up with a plan: telling passengers which bits of the train have the most space on them.

Here’s the science part. Many trains include automatic train weighing systems, which do exactly what the name suggests: monitoring the downward force on any individual wheel axis in real time. The data thus gathered is used mostly to optimise the braking.

But it also serves as a good proxy for how crowded a particular carriage is. All TfL are doing here is translating that into real time information visible to passengers. It’s using the standard, traffic light colour system: green means go, yellow means “hmm, maybe not”, red means “oh dear god, no, no, no”. 

All this will, hopefully, encourage some to move down the platform to where the train is less crowded, spreading the load and reducing the number of passengers who find themselves becoming overly familiar with a total stranger’s armpit.

The system is not unique, even in London: trains on the Thameslink route, a heavy-rail line which runs north/south across town (past CityMetric towers!) has a similar system visible to passengers on board. And so far it’s only a trial, at a single station, Shoreditch High Street.

But you can, if you’re so minded, watch the information update every few seconds or so here.

Can’t see why you would, but I can’t see why I would either, and that hasn’t stopped me spending much of the day watching it, so, knock yourselves out.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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