The Ark Hotel – 15 floors built in 6 days

The Ark Hotel – 15 floors built in 6 days

Below is a time-lapse video showing the Ark Hotel being constructed in Changsha, the capital city of China’s Hunan province. Changsha is China’s 19th largest city mirrors the building’s rapid growth. Changsha tripled in size between the 1940s and 1980s and today contains an estimated population of 6.6 million

Through the magic of prefabrication, the Ark Hotel was built erector-set-style at just such a fantastic pace and recorded through time-lapse photography. The better term might be constructed in six days, however, as the building’s foundation and the factory-made pieces were already finished at the beginning of this architectural ballet, but the feat proves rather amazing nonetheless. Using pre-fabricated parts, the entire hotel’s construction took only 6 days, excluding the foundation, which the crew poured in advance.

According to the video’s description, the hotel has a reported  ”Level 9 Earthquake Resistance” classification ie  able to withstand a  quake over 1,000 times more powerful than the January 2010s quake in Haiti

The designers decided on lightweight steel and a diagonal bracing structure throughout the buildings 15 stories to give the building increased strength, while using less energy and resources than typical building constructions. The hotel is sound-proofed, and thermal-insulated. Its air purification efficiency results in air that is twenty times cleaner than that outside. It used six times less material than a traditional building, and is five times more energy efficient. All components are factory made, construction waste, mainly package materials, result from on site set-up only and amounted to 1% of the total weight of the building.

Whilst the hotel’s façade lacks character, given the rapid nature of its construction and the use of pre-fabricated parts, this is not at all surprising.


48 hours of construction time is the accrued time of structural construction with extra 4 days to complete the whole building as whole !

Chinese workers rested after 10pm everyday. As you may see on the left corner the clicker registers 46 hours as time to finish the main structural components, and another 90 hours to finish the building enclosure. For a building of this size a conventional approach would take anywhere from 3 months or more.

Far from being some attempt to make the Guinness Book of Records, this amazing accomplishment was just another week’s work for construction crews working in the new Chinese economy.

The Ark Hotel is in the southern-central Chinese city of Changsha, where working around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week is considered quite normal in the building industry. After all, time is money in anybody’s language.

Many Chinese workers leave their families behind in country areas to find work in the cities. They find accommodation close to their workplace, whether the job is temporary or permanent. And often the employers provide quarters for their workers, either in nearby apartments, typically for factory workers, or in temporary dormitories like for for construction crews.

There was no shoddy construction in the building of the Ark Hotel. No workers were injured, either. Workers are seen in the video wearing the best modern safety harnesses and other protective and safety equipment.

The hotel was build to withstand a level 9 Earthquake, its rooms are fully sound-proofed and thermal-insulated, and everything from the lights to the plumbing was built with modules that were built off-site in a factory — with less than 1 percent wastage. The parts were put together at the building site, like some a giant jig-saw puzzle.

Broad Sustainable Building Company China


Tthe Broad Pavilion, one of 17 corporate pavilions at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, was completed in under 24 hours !

The six-story energy-efficient structure was designed to use just 20 percent of the materials used by other pavilions of a comparable size. It also consumes just one-sixth of the energy of similar-sized pavilions due to a series of passive solar design techniques: 15cm thick insulation, triple-layered non-metallic framed windows, exterior shading and fresh air heat recovery.

Zhang Yue – owner of Broad Sustainable Building Co china

“We’ve been preparing for two months, but producing all the prefabricated parts in our factory took us less than a week,” said Fu Lixin, who oversaw the pavilion

Broad Sustainable Building, made this feat happen. Broad is an air conditioning company and was one of the central partners at the recent Shanghai Expo that erected the six-story Broad Pavilion in just one day, and provided what it called ‘low carbon’ central cooling to all 200 pavilions at the Expo.

Below is a time-lapse of that construction (in just one day):

Just like with the Broad Pavilion, the Ark Hotel’s claims to sustainability are centered around three main areas: triple-glazed plastic framed windows, thick thermal insulation for walls, and “exterior solar shading and fresh air heat recovery” which together are supposed to reduce the building’s energy consumption up to 80% compared to a similar building without these technologies.

The company said in documents that the Ark Hotel, for example, used just 53 kilos of steel and 43 kilos of concrete for each square meter of construction – comparatively, the Beijing Library used 180 kilos of steel and 355 kilos of cement for each square meter of construction. That drops the carbon dioxide related to building construction from the Beijing Library’s example of 883 kilos of CO2 per square meter of construction to 147 kilos of CO2 for the Ark Hotel.

The hotel will also use solar collectors for hot water and have a combined Broad ‘direct-fired’ (gas-powered) air conditioning, and solar air conditioning system. What they don’t detail, but you can certainly get a sense of in the clip, is that delivering all that prefab and doing all that work so quickly must have entailed a huge amount of transport-based CO2. To call the building sustainable without giving some hint as to what it takes behind the scenes to make all the prefab and scheduling happen is a bit of a pity.

So how does an air conditioning company create a radically more efficient way to erect buildings ?  Broad itself answers this question by saying: “Since the Wenchuan Earthquake devoted all of its efforts to its earthquake-resistant building research…All of our products come from our own research, and grow out of our innovation focused corporate culture.”

Share your thoughts