Nine day wonder?
Nine Days is an American rock band; it's also the time it took the Chinese to erect a three-storey office block in the country's central Hunan province.
Not that the builders were satisfied with this timescale. They were aiming for just one day, but heavy rain, a delivery problem and a national holiday set them back.
The building was created using a system of prefabricated modules, manufactured off site. In fact, more than 90 per cent of the work was done in advance in two factories.
You can view the construction here:
So, is this the future of construction, or just a nine day wonder?
In the UK we are seeing a move towards standardisation in some sectors. In education, for example, the 'more for less' agenda has driven down costs and forced builders to come up with economies of scale. Providing off-the-shelf solutions is one route.
The JV between SCAPE and Willmott Dixon is currently building the UK's first Sunesis standard design at Oakfield Primary in Rugby. The school will be opened this September and the all inclusive cost tag of £2.2million for the base design is attracting many Local Authorities to the web site to place orders.
With the right amount of detailed planning it can be done, but traditionally, the property and construction industries have not worked that way.
As a nation, we do not like things to be too homogenous. We value creativity and diversity. We also like to show off and keep up with the Joneses.
However, if we are to cut down on waste, achieve best value and be more environmentally friendly, we can't afford to reinvent the wheel every time we construct a new building.
For my taste, the Chinese box is a bit basic and, well, ordinary. But there are definitely lessons to be learned from it.