A Picture Is Worth... (Literally) Unsustainably Developed Apartment Building

reuters shanghai apartment photo

Photo: Reuters, from Mail Online

This is a very unsettling and sad example of development gone terribly wrong. A newly built 13-storey apartment building has fallen and one person is dead; it was fortunate that noone was living inside these new flats by a river in Shanghai.

Shoddy construction and the use of sub-standard materials is a concern in China's construction sector as the country scrambles to build out cities and finish massive infrastructure projects to keep pace with fast economic growth.

It appears to be unclear why the building toppled. Any thoughts?The Daily Mail notes that "other similar-looking blocks in the same property development were still standing nearby." How very lucky that this accident happened before people moved in. It is difficult not to be very critical of the construction company, or perhaps the government officials who were not paying attention to the particulars of the soil. The proximity to the river should have been a clue, at least.

reuters shanghai concrete foundations photo

Photo: Reuters, from Mail Online

When we talk about "sustainable development" we really mean having a more sound foundation to our economic progress. Yet, as the current economic crisis has shown, our global economy is not too solid and green or ecologically sustainable principles are increasingly sought after. Our global "growth" cannot be sustained without resources, especially food and energy, but also brain power... Also, as pointed out in Alex Pasternack's interview with Steve Hammer here on Treehugger,

Q: Considering how many cities China's still going to build from scratch, is China at an enviable position when it comes to developing innovative approaches to clean cities?

A: We did some research on buildings in Shanghai. One number that I just can't forget is that in 1980 the city had 112 buildings taller than 8 stories. Now it has 130,000. You're not starting from scratch when you have that level of development in the last 30 years. In that sense, China faces the challenge of any existing city in the West. But yes, they're starting from scratch insofar as there will be 350 million new urban dwellers, and a lot of them will be living in densely populated cities and in existing cities.

From Greening of China's Mayors

Building a 13-storey block of flats, as the Daily Mail calls it, was obviously not a very clever idea in this particular case, or was it a case of faulty, even illegal construction?

Brought to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

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