changsa-skycity-oneDoes China need another signature skyscraper? Changsha’s Sky City, currently still at the project stage,  caught my attention, not so much for its ambition to become the world’s tallest skyscraper (yawn) but for its desire to promote a more sustainable way of urban living in China.

Any recent visitor to China will know that its urban skylines are rapidly filling with skyscrapers, each claiming to be taller or more stylish than its neighbors. They create lucrative and prestigious work for the architects and building designers, often western firms, but do they really benefit the inhabitants or city as a whole?

The “build it and they will come” mentality that characterizes a lot of  China infrastructure projects is personified in these supersized buildings.  Downtown communities are often uprooted and huge quantities of resources consumed both in the construction and operation to create towering structures with vast quantities of office space that are often destined to sit underutilized for years to come.

sky citySky City, projected to reach 838m into the sky, may make a huge impression on Changsha’s skyline, but the architects claim its carbon footprint will be relatively modest. Thats because it has been designed as a mixed-use “vertical city” and seeks to promote a more sustainable model of urban development for China that will dramatically reduce the need for roads and cars.

It will be a mixed community building with multiple functions, where people can live, work, shop, entertain, go to school and see a doctor under the same roof. The designers say it will be capable of satisfying all its residents needs from  “cradle to the grave” — except for the crematorium.

Of the total space available, nearly 83% will be for residential purposes, housing up to 17,000 people. 5% will be for the hotel housing 1000 guests, while 3% each will be dedicated to schools, hospitals, offices and shops.

Sky City was originally due to be completed in 2014, after just ten months of work thanks to the use of modular building techniques that dramatically shorten the time required to erect this 202-story building.

The innovative project is currently on hold, however, reportedly because it lacks the necessary permits.

More on Sky City in this Treehugger article.

Fans of superlatives might also like to browse the blurb on the 632-meter Shanghai Tower, which was recently topped out and should open next year. Its architects like to talk up its green credentials and even go so far as to call it a “vertical community”, although it seems to consist almost entirely of office space.