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Mon 24 Jan 2011 12:00 AM

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Stunt building

Flatpacked structures make for a swift build.

Stunt building
Fast work: 16 stories of building in just 136 hours.
Stunt building

The only story in town for the last couple of weeks has been
Qatar’s
successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. And rightly so. To win the opportunity
to host the tournament is a great achievement and one most people hope Qatar will make
a great success.

The detailed FIFA bid document calls for a staggering a number
of buildings to appear in the next few years and be up and running well ahead of
the cup. A valid and much asked question over the last 10 days or so is how is this
actually going to happen?

Contractors working in Qatar may be awaiting the chance to
bid for more work, but they also show signs of nervousness about the time constraints
they may be presented with, once contracts are in place. Tough time scales are not
unheard of in the region. Traditionally the answer is to work multiple shifts, day
and night, and throw as much labour as you can fit on site at the problem. While
this kind of works, there are other options.

China
has recently provided us with an extreme example of just what else can be done.
There, in the province of Hunan, a developer by the name of Broad Sustainable
Building whipped up a 16-storey
hotel in 136 hours. The structure went up in 46 hours, 90 hours later it was enclosed
and ready for the fit out to begin.

The time-lapse video is a great watch – you can find it on constructionweekonline.com
– and demonstrates the power of pre-fabrication. It also shows what you can achieve
if you put your mind to it.

The steel frame work of the building was put together off site.
Component parts were then transported to the project and pieced together using a
ring of cranes and squads of apparently well-trained labourers.

The company was clearly engaged in a bit of ‘stunt building’
and had obviously made the necessary arrangements to show off its achievements.
But it also showed what can happen if you have the right resources at hand. If the
same act were repeated in select locations around Qatar, then much of the supporting buildings
required for the World Cup event could be structurally complete in a few short months.

Okay, so this is unlikely, but the thought may send shivers up
the spines of contractors who will use more conventional build programmes to hit
the cup targets, once they become clear. Qatar certainly has the financial pulling
power to import the best available technology and methods and the organisers could
quite reasonably look beyond Gulf-based expertise to get the job done.

Given the publicity around the award of the event, there will
be no shortage of suitors for the work. Competition will be tough and tenders competitive.
Those who are already established in the country may regard themselves as having
an advantage. They might be right.

However, China has been keen
on exporting its industrial power to the region, and its government hasn’t been
afraid to incentivise the selection process. It will be interesting to see how keen
they are on football.

Stuart Matthews is the senior group editor of ITP Business' construction & design tiles.

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