Archive for ‘Construction’

28/02/2017

Building Binge: ADB Calls for More Infrastructure Across Asia – China Real Time Report – WSJ

BEIJING–Asia needs at least $1.5 trillion of roads, bridges and other infrastructure annually between now and 2030 to maintain its growth momentum, a doubling of earlier projections, according to the Asian Development Bank.

In a report released Tuesday, the Manila-based development bank said the tab would run even higher if climate change is factored in: Upgrading power plants, transport systems and other facilities would boost regional investment by another $241 billion annually among some 45 Asia and Pacific countries.

Infrastructure has gained favor as a way to boost flagging growth following the 2009 global financial crisis. U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to spend $1 trillion over a 10-year period rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges. China spent 15.2 trillion yuan [$2.2 trillion] in infrastructure fixed-asset investment in 2016 alone. The world’s second-biggest economy is promoting its infrastructure-led growth model, creating the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which touts itself as a more efficient alternative to the likes of the World Bank and ADB.

Countries that fail to invest in infrastructure may see economic growth pinched by bottlenecks and lackluster job-creation. The ADB’s current projections represent a doubling of the $750 billion in annual infrastructure requirements the bank forecast in 2009 for the 2010-2020 period. The Asia-Pacific region currently invests around $880 billion annually in infrastructure, according to ADB.Governments currently pay around 92% of the cost of infrastructure in the region, the bank estimates in its report. Boosting spending levels, it said, is going to require tax, regulatory and institutional changes to draw in the private sector.

“Governments can get more bang out of their infrastructure investment,” said ADB economist Rana Hasan. Mr. Hasan acknowledged that the Asian region is unlikely to spend the full $1.7 trillion annually, but said the ADB hopes its recommendations can bring governments closer to those levels. “They need to make it more attractive for the private sector,” he said.

Of the estimated $26 trillion in projects required between 2016 and 2030 to bolster economic output, alleviate poverty and respond to climate change, $14.7 trillion is needed for the power sector, $8.4 trillion for transport, $2.3 trillion for telecommunications and $800 billion for water and sanitation projects, the report said.While acknowledging the need for better and more infrastructure, some economists caution that corruption and politics can significantly undercut the economic benefits of big building initiatives.

“Most developing countries could use more infrastructure. But the problem is not a lack of demand. It’s a lack of credibility,” said Guanghua School of Management professor Michael Pettis. “If your debt gets too high, you start running into debt-servicing problems, defaults and other problems.”China has relied on infrastructure investment as a form of economic stimulus since the global financial crisis in 2009. Since then, local government debt, much of it to fund infrastructure, has risen by two-thirds, according to Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. That debt stood at more than 41% of economic output in 2015, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.Beijing has also struggled to attract private investors. Though it has strongly promoted public-private partnerships, some have stumbled during implementation, many due to mismatched expectations of private companies and the state sector.

More favorable reviews have been given to China’s ambitious plans to modernize the ancient Silk Road trade routes. Known as “One Belt, One Road,” the program envisions a network of ports, bridges, rail lines, industrial parks and telecommunication links linking China to the rest of Asia, Europe and points beyond.

The large sums have caught the attention of foreign engineering and equipment companies such as Caterpillar, ABB Group and Vermeer Corp., which are hoping for a slice of future projects.

Source: Building Binge: ADB Calls for More Infrastructure Across Asia – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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12/01/2017

Edifice Complex: China Is the World’s Largest Skyscraper Factory, Again – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s love for megatowers has hit another high.

For the ninth year running, China topped the world last year for the largest number of new skyscrapers 656 feet tall (200 meters) or taller.

A record 84 high-rises were completed in the country out of 128 globally, according to a report by the U.S.-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which conferred the top ranking on China. Hundreds more are in China’s pipeline for the coming years, with the 1,965-foot Ping An Finance Centre in Shenzhen poised to become the second tallest in the country if finished as planned this year (Shanghai Tower in China’s business capital is the tallest.).

By comparison, seven skyscrapers of comparable height were built last year in the U.S.

Once seen as a sign of China’s progress, the soaring supply of skyscrapers is becoming a symbol of the slowing Chinese economy. Overall office vacancy rates are inching higher as demand wanes from domestic companies facing higher costs and multinational firms cutting back expansion plans.

In China, companies have generally been slow to lease, renting 25% less overall office space over the first three quarters of 2016 compared with a year earlier, due to worries about economic growth and the flight of peer-to-peer lending firms after a regulatory crackdown, according to real-estate broker CBRE Group. The 121-story Shanghai Tower is a prominent example of struggles with leasing.

So why hasn’t momentum slowed?

Partly, it is because local governments in China, hoping to meet economic-growth targets, have a strong incentive to sell long-term leases to developers, who in turn may seek quick returns by building as much rentable space as possible per land parcel, says Daniel Safarik, China director for the Council on Tall Buildings.

“There is also a strong incentive for leaders of large cities to show economic progress in even more tangible ways, such as building the skyline,” Mr. Safarik said.

Developers were particularly aggressive in Shenzhen, a tech hub where 11 high-rises 656 feet or taller were built last year, more than in any country besides China. Four towers of similar height were built in New York City last year.

Office-leasing troubles are starting to surface in the city, according to a third-quarter report from real estate broker Savills. The huge supply delayed some office-project launches, the broker said. Meanwhile, the overall amount of available space that was leased in the third quarter fell 35% from the previous quarter.

The city-wide vacancy rose to 9.9%, compared with the 9.2% average for China’s four first-tier cities, which include Shenzhen. CBRE said in a report that the rate may climb further with more buildings being completed over the next six months.

Office demand has been even more slack in second-tier cities, typically including provincial capitals and other large municipalities. The office vacancy rate for them collectively was 28.3% in the third quarter, CBRE said. In Chongqing, a fast-growing city in central China, the city-wide office vacancy rate was 43% at the end of the third quarter.

Source: Edifice Complex: China Is the World’s Largest Skyscraper Factory, Again – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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16/12/2016

More Trump-Branded Projects Set to Sprout Up Across India – India Real Time – WSJ

India is set to get more Trump-branded projects as local developers seek to capitalize on the brand.

A story from The Wall Street Journal Friday took a look at the many projects around the world connected to the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, including those in India.

Unimark Group, a developer based in Kolkata, has tied up to rebrand a previously planned residential apartment building in the eastern city into a Trump-branded project.

The project is being redesigned to make it better and more luxurious to fit with Trump standards, said Dipanjan Ray, head of marketing at Unimark.

He said the project is still in planning stage, so they aren’t marketing it yet. When they do, he doesn’t doubt Mr. Trump’s election as the next U.S. president will help sales as it has elevated brand awareness in India.

“People were not so aware of Mr. Trump,” a year ago, Mr. Ray said. “He is well known to everybody right now.”

The Trump Organization has also signed up with developer M3M India Pvt. Ltd., to build a residential building in the bustling New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, according to two people familiar with the matter. The deal was done prior to Mr. Trump’s election, according to both people, but has yet to be formally announced.

In April, Trump announced a tie-up with another developer Ireo to build an office building in Gurgaon. A spokesman for Ireo wouldn’t comment on the status of that project.

Panchshil Realty, a developer in the western Indian town of Pune, finished building the first Trump Towers in India earlier this year. The price tag for the fancy flats: $2.2 million and some are still available.

The developer had been planning another project with the Trump brand name. Sagar Chordia, a director at Panchshil, told The Wall Street Journal in November that he was planning to meet with officials at The Trump Organization to discuss a new residential project, named Trump Riverwalk.

Mr. Chordia met with Mr. Trump in the U.S. after his election, but said that they didn’t discuss any business. He wouldn’t discuss the latest status of Trump Riverwalk but said it doesn’t have plans to launch any new projects at the moment as the property market in India is a bit soft.In Mumbai, developer Lodha Group is building a 75-story Trump Towers which has three-and four-bedroom apartments with options for indoor Jacuzzis and automatic toilets. The flats are listed at around $1.3 million onward, and some are still unsold.

Source: More Trump-Branded Projects Set to Sprout Up Across India – India Real Time – WSJ

11/10/2016

Building Collapse Illustrates Peril of Do-It-Yourself Construction – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A fatal building collapse in southern China has highlighted a practice that more than once has produced death traps: structures built with little oversight by villagers on former farmland.

Such slapped-together buildings have tended to grow even more precarious as they age and as extra floors are added.

Four six-story buildings in a suburban area of Wenzhou, a city on China’s southern coast, collapsed Monday morning, claiming at least 22 lives, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, which cited local authorities. Six survivors were pulled from the building before the rescue was called off, Xinhua said.

The buildings were close to industrial parks of Wenzhou, a hub for light manufacturing including shoemaking, and most residents were migrant workers.The buildings were several decades old and erected by villagers, according to an article by the Wenzhou Daily that the local government reposted on its official website Tuesday. It said investigations were under way but an initial analysis showed that the collapse was likely caused by the buildings’ low quality and shaky foundation, a problem made worse by continuous rainfall in the past few days.

It used to be common practice in the 1980s and 1990s for residents outside China’s urban area to build houses with their own hands, often on what had been farmland. Over the years, floors were added without approval, leaving tottering buildings crumbling under the extra weight.

As cities have grown to incorporate such areas, local governments have tried to get rid of these “towns within cities,” tearing down the aging and shoddily built structures. The Wenzhou government had targeted much of the complex of the recent collapse for demolition, some of which had already started.

It wasn’t the first collapse of villager-built housing. Two years ago, a building under construction by local farmers in Xian in western China collapsed, killing five people.

Some online commenters pointed out that photos of the buildings involved show that more floors had been added to the original construction. The state-run newspaper Beijing News quoted a Wenzhou resident as saying that it was common for self-built buildings in the area to have additional floors.

The practice of adding floors has sometimes been a way for the owners of buildings targeted for demolition to extract more compensation from the government, which bases amounts to pay out to residents on the size of the living areas.

Another building collapse in Xian in 2011, which claimed seven lives, was caused by illegal additions the building’s owner had made to get more compensation, according to the local government. The owner was detained by the local police.

That tragedy came months after the Xian government rolled out new regulations to forbid compensation for illegal additions to a building. The local government said at the time that more than 50 cases of “self-built” building collapses had caused 69 deaths since 2007.

It was unclear whether the owners of the collapsed buildings in Wenzhou, who weren’t identified by the local government, will be held legally responsible for the casualties.

The Wenzhou collapse prompted calls for more regulation. “If relevant departments are still indifferent in face of self-built houses in such a disastrous state,” read one commentary by Beijing News on Tuesday, “then similar tragedies will be repeated.”

Source: Building Collapse Illustrates Peril of Do-It-Yourself Construction – China Real Time Report – WSJ

03/09/2016

China tourism: Crossing the new glass bridges – BBC News

Tourism sites in the central Henan and Hunan provinces have been constructing vertigo-inducing skywalks in a bid to attract visitors.

And it seems to have worked, attracting thrill-seeking tourists and locals, all wanting a chance to experience a bird’s eye view of the Chinese countryside.

One of them is student Li Shu Zhen, 19, from Hangzhou city.

She shared with the BBC her experience of climbing the Brave Man’s Bridge in Pingjiang county, Hunan province.

“You look down and feel a sense of fear, but you quickly recover from that and enjoy the scenery,” she said.

“It was beautiful, almost as if one was walking on air.”

Yoga has been one of the stranger activities performed on the Brave Man’s Bridge

An eating challenge was held on this bridge in Yueyang country – although you might lose your appetite if you look downT

he fully transparent bridge, which measures 300m long (984ft) and 180m high, first opened to the public in September.

It is one of the more popular bridges, with events – like mass yoga displays – often being staged on it.

Local officials say that glass panels were designed to withstand high winds and earthquakes, as well as the “weight of 800 visitors”.

Glass bridge fever has also spread to neighbouring Taiwan, where a 179m-high bridge opened in Nantou county.

Construction has already begun on a second glass bridge above Zhangjiajie valley in Hunan province

‘Even if the glass breaks’

Construction on the latest bridge, touted as the world’s longest glass-bottomed walkway, is also nearing completion.

Standing at 300m high and stretching 375m, the bridge will hang above the Zhangjiajie grand canyon, also in Hunan province.

Gearing up for the bridge’s 2016 opening, officials have even enlisted the public’s help in naming it.

One of its engineers, Yang Guohong, from state-owned China Railway Major Bridge Reconnaissance and Design Institute, said contractors had taken extra safety precautions.

“No matter how the tourists jump on the bridge, it will still be fine,” he told the People’s Daily newspaper.

“The steel structures beneath it are incredibly dense, so even if the glass breaks, visitors won’t fall through.”

Would you dare to walk across?

But architects who spoke to the BBC said that such glass bridges were often “primarily a novelty, built as visitor attractions rather than commuter bridges”.

Architect Keith Brownlie, who was involved in a glass bridge for The London Science Museum, said that the appeal was “thrill”.

“It is the relationship between emotionally driven fear and the logical understanding of safety,” he said. “These structures tread the boundary between those two contrasting senses and people like to challenge their rational mind in relation to their irrational fear.

“Others felt that the bridges symbolised extravagance, especially in China.

“In architecture, glass has always been associated with luxury and often as a display of wealth,” said bridge designer Ezra Groskin.

“Glass floor panels, used in the creation of invisible architecture, are not a new phenomenon. However its use is often restricted due to cost and practicality.”

A terrifying incident last October sent visitors fleeing in fear after a section of a glass bridge in Yuntai mountain, Henan province, cracked

Shattered nerves

But how safe are China’s glass bridges?

An incident in October sent terrified visitors fleeing in fear after part of a glass skywalk in Henan province’s Yuntai Mountain Geological Park cracked, despite only being open for two weeks.

Park officials closed the walkway immediately, later saying there was “no reason for worry” and that the cracks had “no impact on safety”.

But experts questioned the use of glass in an exposed mountain environment.

“While a glass structure designed by a competent engineer and manufactured by a specialist contractor has no greater risk in terms of structural integrity than any other building material, glass can be prone to localised shocks,” noted architect Adam Holicska.

“The use of it in a mountain environment where there is a potential risk of rock impact can make it a questionable choice.

“Architect Keith Brownlie added that the cleaning of glass panels and lack of slip resistance should also be considered in such an environment.”One issue with glass decks is the problem of grip,” he said. “Glass is slippery and so anti-slip properties must be provided,”

The glass-bottomed Brave Man’s Bridge in Hunan province connects two mountains

“Please, no more such bridges,” commented a user on China’s popular micro-blogging site Weibo. “Judging from this incident, it is only a matter of time before more serious accidents and deaths occur.

“But glass bridge enthusiasts remain undeterred.

“I still would not hesitate to visit other glass bridges soon,” Ms Li admitted.

Other netizens on the site also expressed similar opinions.

“I am confident that officials will step up additional measures after that happened,” said one Weibo user.

“Thankfully deaths were avoided but one bad incident should not put one off from conquering such a spectacular bridge.”

Another compared it to other bridges of the world: “If Sydney’s Harbour Bridge experienced a crack, I doubt government officials would close it down. So we should not let such an episode affect our opinions about our unique Chinese structures.”

Source: China tourism: Crossing the new glass bridges – BBC News

30/12/2015

Historian praises China’s global infrastructure building, criticizes West’s destructive methods – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China, with its impressive international infrastructure initiatives, has injected impetus into global growth, a U.S.-German historian has said, while criticizing Washington’s hawkish attitude, as reported by Sputnik.

China is “leading an economic renaissance of a scale not seen in more than a century,” said F. William Engdahl, a historian and economic researcher, in his recent article for New Eastern Outlook. “Beijing is, with customary Chinese speed, linking its economy by land and by sea lanes to all Eurasia,” the historian wrote, previously saying that China is “moving forward with an impressive array of major international infrastructure projects” in various regions. “For my side, I infinitely prefer the peaceful building projects to the destroying ones,” Engdahl said.

During the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in early December in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the 60-billion-U.S.-dollar aid package for Africa in the next three years. The package seeks to help Africa to industrialize, modernize its agricultural production, boost the skills of its workers, build infrastructure and improve its health care.

“Unlike NATO’s endless wars, construction of infrastructure — railways, water navigation, electric power grids, lifts people up and enhances peace and stability,” Engdahl said, pointing out that Xi’s offer benefits both Africa and China.

China is also establishing a more amicable, vibrant neighborhood and is deepening economic ties with European countries through its Belt and Road initiative. The Belt and Road initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was brought up by Xi in 2013, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.

The initiative creates a “golden opportunity” for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that are facing economic difficulties, linking the East and the West of the Eurasian continent through a vast network of high-speed railways and maritime routes, Engdahl said.

“China is the world address in rail infrastructure today, while the West, led by the pathetic rail construction record of the USA, falls farther and farther behind,” Engdahl said, referring to China’s planned construction of a Hungary-Serbia high-speed railway. The railway linking the capitals of Hungary and Serbia, Budapest and Belgrade, has a total length of 350 km, with 184 km in Serbia. It is designed for electric passenger and cargo trains with a maximum speed of 200 km per hour. Once complete, it will help create a fast lane for importing and exporting products between China and Europe.

Besides recognizing the export of “Chinese rail technology” to Europe, the researcher also mentioned Beijing’s intentions to invest in constructing and upgrading port facilities in the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas.

Source: Historian praises China’s global infrastructure building, criticizes West’s destructive methods – Xinhua | English.news.cn

29/07/2015

GIFT, the Indian Smart City That Would Cost $23,500 a Person – India Real Time – WSJ

Two 29-story steel-and-glass office buildings rise above a dusty wasteland in the Indian state of Gujarat, the most conspicuous sign of progress on an ambitious project conceived by the man who is now India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

More than seven years ago, Mr. Modi, at the time the state’s top elected official, decided to push the construction of an entirely new city—dubbed the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, or GIFT—about a 40-minute drive from Ahmedabad, the historic commercial hub here.

More In Smart Cities

Is India Ready for Narendra Modi’s ‘Smart Cities’?

The if-you-build-it-they-will-come idea was to create a magnet for banks, securities firms and information-technology companies akin to Canary Wharf in London or La Defense outside Paris. But construction work has moved slowly and few private enterprises have signed up. Of the two office towers, the first is about 50% occupied and the second one is empty.

Critics say the undertaking’s halting progress is a cautionary tale as Mr. Modi’s federal administration moves ahead with plans for 100 “smart cities,” which, among other things, would use technology to improve public services such as waste disposal and save energy.

Ramakant Jha, managing director of the company building the city, says that offices and retail stores and other businesses at GIFT will help create one million direct and indirect jobs. The city will also have homes, allowing employees to walk to work, and social infrastructure like a school, hospital and malls.

With central air-conditioning in all buildings, filtered tap water and municipal waste collection (a rarity in urban India), GIFT, as planners envision it, would be far more advanced than existing Indian cities.

But all this comes at a cost. If 100,000 people live in a city, the cost of building the city’s infrastructure comes to around $23,500 per person. In comparison, India’s gross national income per capita is around $1,600, according to the World Bank.

via GIFT, the Indian Smart City That Would Cost $23,500 a Person – India Real Time – WSJ.

13/01/2015

In a Record Year for Skyscrapers, China is Miles Above Everyone Else – China Real Time Report – WSJ

In China, polluted skies aren’t the limit – at least for skyscrapers.

The world built a record 97 buildings that were 200 meters (656 feet) or taller in 2014, and for the seventh year in a row, the Middle Kingdom completed the greatest number of them, according to a new report (pdf) from the U.S.-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

China’s output of 58 skyscrapers was a 61% increase from its previous record of 36 buildings in 2013, according to the report. Tianjin, the eastern sister city of Beijing, completed the most 200-meter-plus skyscrapers, totaling six. That’s more than all such skyscrapers built in the Philippines, the world’s No. 2 builder behind China with five.

Within China, there was a four-way tie for second place between Chongqing, Wuhan and Wuxi, all with four buildings each.

If you were to stack all of China’s new skyscrapers on top of each other, they would reach 13,548 meters (44,449 feet) into the sky — close to the upper altitude limit for most commercial airliners. The Philippines, meanwhile, built a total of 1,143 meters’ worth of skyscrapers.

While One World Trade Center in New York, at 541 meters tall (1,775 feet), earned the top spot as the tallest building completed in 2014, the southern Chinese city of Wuxi was home to three of the top-10 tallest buildings erected last year. The Wharf Times Square, a 339-meter tall mixed-use hotel and office complex in Wuxi was the tallest Chinese building completed last year. The city also finished a 328-meter tall hotel and office complex called Wuxi Suning Plaza and a 304-meter-tall Marriott hotel.

via In a Record Year for Skyscrapers, China is Miles Above Everyone Else – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

19/12/2014

China to construct 7 mln affordable homes in 2015 – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China will begin construction of seven million apartments under the affordable housing program in 2015, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) announced on Friday.

MOHURD minister Chen Zhenggao revealed the target at a national conference on housing and urban-rural development. He said 4.8 million such homes should be completed next year.

The affordable housing program is aimed at providing cheap homes for eligible low-income earners. China began the construction of over seven million homes and completed 4.8 million in 2014.

Chen said China will also continue to push forward the shanty town renovation program extensively as “it can not only improve people’s livelihood but also spur economic growth“.

via China to construct 7 mln affordable homes in 2015 – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

12/12/2014

China’s Construction Workers: Abused and Unpaid – Businessweek

China’s millions of migrant construction workers are building the country’s new highways, stadiums, shopping malls, and rail lines. They often get little in return—sometimes not even their paychecks.

Migrant workers in Beijing

A new survey of 4,329 construction workers by two Chinese nonprofits, the Beijing Practitioner Cultural Development & Research Center for Migrant Workers and iLabor, found that only 5 percent of migrant laborers are offered work contracts. Most take ad hoc jobs, relying on the word of site managers about when and how much they will be paid. The survey documented at least 138 cases over seven years of companies failing to pay any workers on a site.

Zhang Kejian has worked as a construction laborer for 14 years. Every year he has been on the job, he’s had to contend with late or unpaid wages, as he told Caixin magazine. “I hope our society can be aware of what we’re going through,” he said, “and help us with a contract instead of making us slaves of our bosses.”

via China’s Construction Workers: Abused and Unpaid – Businessweek.

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