China’s city-sized mall, complete with artificial sun

3 min read
China’s city-sized mall, complete with artificial sun

For years, the race to build the world’s tallest tower has been dominated by the United Arab Emirates with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or the Tokyo Sky Tree of Japan. But China recently opened up a few front in this race with their unveiling of the world’s “largest building”. Known as the New Century Global Center, this building recently opened in Chengdu, a city of more than 14 million people in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

Measuring some 100 meters (328 feet) high, 500 meters (1,640 feet) long, and 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, it is described by Chinese officials as being “the world’s largest standalone structure”. To give you a sense of that space, the mall contains roughly 420 acres of floor space, which is almost the same area as the principality of Monaco. To put it another way, the mall could fit three Pentagons, four Vatican Cities, or 20 Sydney Opera Houses within its massive frame.

But beyond its sheer size are a few surprising features which make this mall seem more like a self-contained city than a building. In addition to its many retail outlets, it also holds a 14-screen movie theater, a university complex, offices, hotels, a water park called Paradise Island, a skating rink that’s big enough to host international competitions, a pirate ship, 15,000 parking spots, a fake Mediterranean village, and an artificial beach too.

But most impressive of all is the artificial sun. Being an industrial hub, Chendu is known for its rather serious smog problem, with air qualities ranking in the mid to high 100s (unhealthy for people with allergies or respiratory problems). Hence the reason for the 24 hour, 150-meter-long LED screen that serves as a stand-in for the horizon. While inside, people do not have to worry about grey skies preventing them from getting a little warmth and a possible tan.

With this last aspect, China may now lead the world in terms of creating buildings that are more akin to self-contained ecosystems than anything else. In addition to this being a major building milestone, this structure may represent the way of a the future for a nation that’s running out of healthy spaces to put its people. It’s no secret that China, with roughly 1,354,040,000 people as of 2013, is severely overpopulated, but even more problematic is the fact that urban population densities and air and water pollution continue to grow apace, leading to hundreds of thousands of respiratory and pollution-related deaths a year.

As more people move to the city, air and water quality becomes more problematic, and more living space needs to be created, the only solution may be to build structures that contain all the facilities needed to make life complete. This would include sun, surf, air circulation and vacation spots – everything that makes indoor living feel like an outdoor experience

Sources: CNET – The world’s largest standalone structureAQICN

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Tony Simon

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