While most of the countries around the world seem to be in an unannounced competition to outdo each other in either covering the exterior of a building with ornamental vertical gardens or converting rooftops of large buildings to farm space, China has been busy designing and erecting something far larger that offers a wider range of benefits.

Sky City - China's Worlds Biggest... EverythingNews of an acre or two under glass atop tall buildings in North America get tons of fanfare and positive press coverage. All mention about the mega farm/park/flower garden/city structure rising in China right now is skeptical; concentrated on doubts over its low cost and engineering viability. There is a first time for everything, though the rest of the building industry won’t be happy if safe buildings with great assets are possible for a lot less money. (Perhaps it’s the pot calling the kettle black? Time will tell.)

Sky City will be the tallest building in the world, and will literally contain a city capable of housing 30,000 people, providing them with everything they need. Nothing has been overlooked by the developer. Schools, hospitals, shopping, businesses, parks, gardens, outdoor sports, flower nurseries, and yes – a massive organic farm. The design has both open air and enclosed park areas. There is also over 6 miles (10 kilometers) of  ‘walking street’ that runs from floors 1-170.

Work began on the 2749 foot tall skyscraper in Changsha in June. That’s 10 meters taller than the last world’s tallest building, the 828-meter high Burj Khalifa in Dubai. But that’s not all the talking points Sky City claims. It’s modular. The blocks that will make up the massive structure are being built off-site. The pre-fab building will be ready for occupation in just 10 months, which has people in China horrified. It’s too fast for comfort. Government officials aren’t sure what to make of the speed of completion, or the method of construction either. One authority sees this project as being a huge feather in China’s cap, or its greatest hoax.

Sky City Vertical Farm - Image: Broad GroupSo how big is the vertical farm going to be? Once again, a world record in indoor urban farming. The greenest one yet too. None of the produce will ever leave the building. Fruits and veggies will travel stories, instead of blocks or miles, and they can be purchased and carried home by foot. The farm has a 4-acre footprint, with over 930,000 square feet of growing space. That’s the equivalent of about 21 acres of farmland, but more productive in a controlled environment, as well as totally organic year-round growing. It would take a good number of building tops encased in glass to create the equivalent farm space Sky City will have.

Some feel that the idea of never having to leave the building is ridiculous, that it will remove all the interest from life. Being able to breath clean air in China, however, is a miracle. Sky City will take more than 2,000 cars off the street in Central China. It will reduce food miles to zero for a large part of the resident’s diets, and it’s not a luxury property. It’s very efficient by design, extremely sustainable with many green features.

And instead of being surrounded by buildings packed like sardines in a maze of congested streets, Sky City will be off by itself. A lone structure looking out of over acres of afforested land that is undeveloped. It is truly a first in a number of ways; size, location, construction method, and lifestyle features.

What I want to know most at the moment is how do you fit 6 miles of over-sized sidewalks inside a building? It stretches 170 of the 202 stories of height, but there is no mention of stairs. Very curious, but it’s lined with parks and gardens, which sounds lovely.

Will someone in Changsha please video the whole sky walk and the farms when the building is done, and send us the mp4 file? Images? Garden Culture would love to see it!

Amber

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.