Delays are seen as part and parcel of most construction projects, in part because when problems arise and deadlines are missed, this is usually the sort of story that hits the headlines and raises the hackles of community members.
As such it may surprise many to learn that technology is helping to dramatically improve the efficiency of construction operations, allowing huge buildings to sprout from the ground in very small timeframes.
Here are just a few of the most compelling examples of building projects which have been completed at an almost supernaturally fast rate, as well as how these feats were achieved without incident.
This is one of the most appropriately named buildings to come about as a result of the current trend for super-fast construction. Based in the Indian city of Mohali, this residential tower block was put up in a staggeringly tight schedule of 48 hours.
A degree of prefabrication is at work here, although the real secret to the speed of construction, in this case, was the materials chosen. Plastic and foam panels, which are both affordable and lightweight, were used in place of heavier, costlier and more complex materials that might normally have been encountered in this type of building. The key advantage of being able to build so quickly and cheaply in a country like India is that it addresses the growing challenges associated with rapid urbanisation. As more people move into the cities, the demand for housing is skyrocketing and without solutions like this, many would find themselves consigned to slum-like conditions.
Speedy construction techniques help to solve urban housing crises worldwide.
Media attention turned to a 30 storey building located in the Chinese province of Hunan back in 2011 when it was revealed that a team of 200 construction workers were able to complete work on the skyscraper in 15 days.
This was achieved through the use of prefabricated units which were delivered to site and then positioned by jib crane systems and secured together to create a single structure out of modular components.
While traditional construction relies on materials being worked with in-situ, by offloading this responsibility to specialist factories it is possible to significantly slash the time it takes to finish the building itself once ground is broken.
Using pre-fab units and working at such speed might suggest that there would be some corners cut in terms of safety and resilience. Thankfully this is not the case as this towering hotel is designed to stand up to very powerful earthquakes which are common in the region that it occupies.
Building works which run as such a pace are part of the reason that China’s construction sector is making such significant headway at the moment.
Soaring skyscrapers can now emerge in weeks, not years
3D Printed House
Using 3D printing for construction has been a concept that has undergone significant development and refinement in the past few years. Indeed it was only as recently as 2018 that the first house made using 3D printing was actually moved into by residential inhabitants, rather than merely being created as a proof of concept.
The house in question is around 20 per cent more affordable to build than an equivalently sized building put together with traditional materials and techniques. It also took a total of 54 hours for the process of printing the structure to complete, which is certainly impressive.
In this case, it is worth noting that the 3D printing of the building does not include everything that is needed to make it ready for occupants. Instead, after the main parts of the houses had been produced, it was necessary for workers to install everything from the wiring to the windows and fittings. On a domestic scale, with much smaller teams used, this increases the amount of time to completion significantly. In the future, the speed of 3D printing for construction will ramp up and when entire states of houses like this are being put together, the finishing touches will be added with far greater speed and efficiency. It hints at a fast, affordable future for the entire construction sector.
Printing using concrete can overcome traditional construction delays.
Mini Sky City
Following on from the success of the T30 hotel, the same construction firm took on an even more impressive challenge in 2015. The aim was to build a tower with almost twice the number of storeys in fractionally more time than its previous record-setting effort.
The result was Mini Sky City, a skyscraper that rises 57 floors above ground level and is comprised of similar modular units interlocked with one another to allow for such a rapid rate of construction. In all, just 19 days passed between the start and conclusion of work on the site.
Standing at almost 208 metres in height, the building consists of 800 individual apartments for residents, as well as extensive office areas which are large enough to accommodate up to 4000 workers on a daily basis.
Another aspect of the design of Mini Sky City which is noteworthy is the extensive use of atriums within the building. This gives visitors, workers and residents a greater sense of space, while still providing structural benefits that shore up the building against seismic activity.
Even with all of these eye-catching projects being completed in seriously rapid timeframes, it is worth noting that this is just one trend within the wider construction industry. On the whole, while efficiency has improved, being able to erect buildings in days or weeks is incredibly unusual, especially if the architecture is more complex than can be easily accommodated by modularity or 3D printing.
The premium finish which many client companies are looking to achieve negates the use of speed-based techniques, even if there is still a demand for deadlines to be set and met to avoid budgets becoming over inflated.
It is also sensible to point out that while developing nations can make particularly good use of the fastest construction technologies, these are also being embraced in the west; North American firms have invested heavily in modular construction, for example. This makes it a truly global trend.