Building a Hotel in Six Days: A Time-Lapse of China's Construction Miracle

A time-lapse video captures the dizzying pace of building in the country.

More

arkhotelchangsha.jpgThis hotel was built in six days. (ArchDaily)

Explaining why China's economy has boomed so much over the past 35 years is a complicated endeavor more suited for a book, but one crude way to describe it is this: China has built a lot of things very, very fast. 

How fast? Well, consider the example of this 15- story building constructed in six days in Changsha, the capital of central China's Hunan Province. In 2010, a city resident created this time lapse video showing the incredibly fast construction of the Ark Hotel:

Why are Chinese buildings built so quickly? One well-publicized factor is corruption: Chinese construction projects are prone to bribery and corner-cutting, and the resulting structures typically do not last very long. Newer Chinese buildings, though, also use prefabricated modular technology, something that has shortened construction time without a corresponding sacrifice of safety standards. 

Then, there is the labor force, which usually consists of undocumented internal migrants working for very long hours at low wages. These workers lack the means to complain of unfair labor conditions, and construction strikes are rare in China -- something that helps keep building projects on schedule. 
 
Reforming labor laws -- and enforcing building codes -- is one of China's long-term challenges, so eventually stricter laws might make such lightning-speed construction projects less common. But in the meantime, residents in cities such as Changsha can still have the unsettling experience of going on vacation for a week -- and seeing a brand new hotel pop up when they get back.
Jump to comments

Matt Schiavenza is a former associate editor at The Atlantic

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In