Shanghai Ground Cracking Under the Weight of Its Skyscrapers

Lujiazui, Shanghai skyscrapers.

Lujiazui is falling down, falling down.  The price to pay for having one of the world’s most iconic skylines, Shanghai’s Lujiazui is suffering from an increasing number of mini “fault lines” radiating outwards in every direction.

Pictured below is one netizen’s documentation of the phenomenon, particularly near Shanghai’s most iconic buildings: the World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower. As progress continues on China’s future tallest skyscraper, the Shanghai Tower (situated directly across the street from the current cracks), one can only hope the entire area doesn’t end up collapsing in on itself.

Since 2003, Shanghai has been sinking under the weight of tons of concrete and steel at a rate of about 1.5 centimeters per year, prompting city officials to limit the construction of some skyscrapers. Over the past century, it has sunk over 2 meters.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

The ground in Shanghai is cracking under the increasing pressure of skyscrapers like the World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and upcoming Shanghai Tower.

Source: Sina Weibo

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  • Nyancat

    wow now ive seen it all

    • ZZZ

      This is just subsidence of surficial soil. Any large piece of pavement over a fluvial plain will suffer from this. Houston is a prime example.

      • Nyancat

        are there any implications regarding the so called ‘sinking’ of shanghai?

  • Jay K.

    Did I get sofa?!?!?!

    • Loopins

      No. Put your crack in one of those cracks instead.

  • Uncle Sam

    Man I hope that doesn’t actually collapse in on itself. That is one of the cities I want to see the most.

    • Kewell

      Why?
      I live here and there is nothing special to see. Yes, is not a bad city: clean, safety and so on…But come on, in the world there are so many cities more impressive than SH: Venice, Siena, Kyoto, Lisbona, San Sebastian, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur…
      I can say that China is definitely the least worth south-east Asian country that deserve to be visited…

      • Snapp

        If you’re comparing it to cities worldwide, how the hell can you call Shanghai clean? The air’s like breathing coarse sackcloth. That aside, I really liked the city both times I’ve been, and the architecture isn’t something to be ignored. Totally disagree on China being the least worth country to see in “south-east” Asia as well. It’s a vast country with a vast history, two points where it’s stronger than any other east Asian country.

        • Southwestont

          Yunnan, Yangshou…
          South East China is amazing!
          And as a Canadian, Shanghai blew my socks off.
          It’s no Tokyo or Osaka but Shanghai is still up there in world cities

          • MonkeyMouth

            you sound like you are from Milverton. oh…wait….New Hamburg.
            Goderich? If you are from Sarnia, than, ya, anyhting is better than that. Shanghai is a labyrinth. there are pockets of coolness to be found. my friend has a bar in some underground locale, and they run the hood like that ‘gangs of new york’ movie. how cool is that?
            if you visit shanghai again, make sure you visit these off the radar/map places.

          • dan

            Lol, Def if your from sarnia anything is better. That shit city is polluted like a motherfucker, even worse than China. Both air and water are FUBAR.

          • Kewell

            I’m living in china since many year, travelling a lot, and I can say that all the most famous chinese spots are nothing special, it’s just chinese hype…A piece of malaysia is 10 times better than the whole china, especially the people, every south-easter are so much better than a chinese…Much more friendly, more honest, more smiling, more happy, more polite…
            So I can advise to the people wants to go in Asia travelling: “avoid China, go in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thai, Cambodia, or in Japan, China is not worth the plane ticket”…

            And yes, SH is clean, I mean the roads are clean, the parks are clean, everything is clean…The pollution is an other speech, of course compare to the Alpes is polluted, but compare to the rest of China is good…

          • Sunshine

            Kewell:
            Sounds like you haven’t visited any places in China that are actually worth visiting. What are the most famous “spots” that you are referring to? Care to share?

      • elizabeth

        Shanghai is so much more interesting than Kuala Lumpur. It’s got…the Bund, Lujiazui, Xintiandi, Yuyuan, People’s Square, East and West Nanjing streets, and kilometers of shopping streets lined with megamalls. Different strokes for different folks. Shanghai is also the hub where you can take express trains to many major cities in China. Only thing is, there aren’t any nice beaches that I can think of and the local food is either a tad too oily or salty.

        KL is good for food and…er…only food.

        • Southwestont

          windsor, ontario actually!

          • elizabeth

            The Niagara Falls is absolutely breath-taking.

        • Andao

          The Bund, LJZ, People’s Square, take some pictures and that’s it. Shopping malls? Every Chinese city has the same type of shopping street, its just Nanjing Rd is bigger than all the others.

          I’ve only been to SH twice but I agree that KL, Hanoi, Saigon, etc. are much more happenin.

          • elizabeth

            The Bund – history and relaxing riverwalks
            LJZ – some of the most interesting buildings and landscaping I’ve seen
            Century Park – just as good as New York’s
            People’s Square and East Nanjing Road – it’s more than just shopping if you know how to appreciate architectural heritage
            Yuyuan – local culture in a shoebox

            I don’t get these in KL.

            Like I said, different strokes for different folks.

  • blues

    I hope they survey the damage properly. Those skyscrapers are gonna tumble like dominoes

  • mr. wiener

    Welcome to the rise of the new golden age of China…lets see the Romans lasted 5-600 years [feel free to correct this], the Brits lasted a century and a bit, the Yanks managed 60-70 years. what do you think this one will last, 2 decades? I want to believe it will be longer ,but I’m not optimistic.

    • katsucurry

      753 BC (traditional founding of rome by romulus – the date is backed by archaeology)
      476 AD (odoacer sends the western imperial vestments to constantinople, ending the last vestiges of the western roman empire – so 1229 years)
      1453 AD (the turks conquer constantinople, ending the last vestiges of the eastern roman empire / aka byzantine empire, by modern parlance – 2206 years)

      • mr. wiener

        Thanks for the prompt reply you Gibbon fan you. But I was thinking of the time of Rome as a superpower , so could we narrow that down to some time after the second punic war and before the split into the eastern and western roman empires?
        I definitely want you on my pub quiz team:)

      • donscarletti

        Being a superpower entails more than existing in some form. The UK is generally regarded as a fallen power and it not only still exists, it hasn’t lost a war since before hitting its peak (1783 I guess, unless someone can think of another example) and still has one of the world’s largest economies and military, more than Rome had compared to its neighbours for most of the period you mentioned.

        I’m going to say that Rome could call itself a world power from the end of the Second Punic War 201 BC (Hannibal defeated) to the Treaty of Margus in 420 AD (Rome surrendered its dignity to the Huns), though I’m being generous. 621 years right?

        • Camulos

          The American War of Indepence was an insurgency and not a true war between nations. When the US as a nation later tried to invade Canada, they got their ass handed to them.

          The last war the English have lost could be said to be 1066 when the Normans invaded. There have of course been lots of battles lost, and tbh I’m being pedantic

          • donscarletti

            The American War of Independence was largely fought in pitched battles against a traditional army. I think it’s close enough, especially since the French have ”La bataille de Yorktown“ painted up in their gay little museum at Versailles.

            And completely wrong on the second point. The Hundred Years War is a good example of a defeat, though England won pretty much every single major battle, they couldn’t hold out against the French insurgency. Queen Mary lost the Pale of Calais pretty thoroughly too in a feat of extreme strategic incompetence .

          • Chinggis was here

            I’m pretty sure Robert the Bruce gave the English a flogging and the Irish didn’t gain independence by the grace of the House of Lords, there was also a rather unfortunate debacle in Afghanistan in the 1800s and the less said about Suez the better. It also depends if the landing of William of Orange and his Dutch army are counted as a liberation or invasion.

            On the other hand, you don’t get to control 1/3 of the world by being nice guys and the British were absolutely ruthless when they had to be. Step out of line and you’d have a naval fleet and a pack of rabid Highlanders on your doorstep.

        • mr. weiner

          I can definitely live with that.
          China is the heir presumptive to being the worlds dominant super power. I’m not sure how long their ride is going to be [remember japan in the 1980s-90s. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering if they’ll screw the pooch. :P

        • Alan

          The UK is generally regarded as a fallen power and it not only still exists, it hasn’t lost a war since before hitting its peak

          True. Admittedly the UK is a fading power, but if the Scots declare independence after their referendum to the UN, it will be the final nail in the coffin.

          Also no aircraft carrier, I doubt britain could win this time around in the falklands if push came to shove, we are so pc we let the iranians tell us what to do…gone are the days of rule britannia!

          • donscarletti

            Technically speaking, the UK has an aircraft carrier (HMS Illustrious), it just has no carrier born fixed wing aircraft.

      • Xiongmao

        Actually one can argue that the Russian empire took over after the fall of Constantinople and the ‘Classic’ Eastern Roman Empire. Orthodox Christianity and even the Caesar title transferred to Russia (Czar) after that time. If it’s correct or not I don’t really want to judge but the Imperial family of Russia saw themselves as the cultural descendants of ancient Rome. That, of course, would put the date of the fall of the Roman Empire to 1917.

    • typingfromwork

      The golden age for Rome was more during the reign of Caesar and Nero, both despots obviously and ironically after they got rid of the pesky little thing called democracy.

      And then they kinda just shrunk. Subsequent emperors were all hedonistic bastards, the empire lost its will and gotten eroded bit by bit by the babarians. After their retreat to the east in present day Turkey they called themselves the Byzantines and were caught between a rock and a hard place- the Christian babarians to the West and the emergent Muslims to the East. Several Crusades later and all their engergies were sapped, finally becoming completely defeated by the Turks and absorbed into the Ottoman empire.

      I don’t even think the concept of a golden age really applies anymore. We live in an age of unparalleled peace and technological wonder. The reason why we had golden ages in the past was because people were restricted in where they could go to. Nowadays that’s not much of a problem. If by golden age you mean a dominant position in the world, then China isn’t even anywhere near there yet- there’s still the US of A lording it up on the high seas, and Europe may just re-emerge as a cohesive and powerful entity (LOL NO). It will be a long time before a change of the position of head honcho of the world, and even if it did happen, does it really matter? The world is way too multipolar for any one nation to dominate anymore.

      tl;dr China? Golden age? Nowhere near yet. Hasn’t even began.

      • Alan

        The world is way too multipolar for any one nation to dominate anymore.

        Never say never. Not if Messrs Medvedev, Nazarbeyez, and Putin and the belarussian leader get their way.

        Those guys are die hard soviet types, communist in all but name…

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2045186/Vladimir-Putin-Eurasian-Union-plans-raise-fears-return-Cold-War-days.html

        • typingfromwork

          There will always be megalomaniacs who want to swallow the world whole. Putin looks like a Bond villian more and more everyday.

          If they want to resurect the soviet empire then they are doing it out of their own sense of ego. The only thing Russia has now is oil. Not even its military technologies are so sought after anymore. They are a bunch of myopic, tin pot dictators with no vision whatsoever. They will eventually be doomed- but the sad thing is that they will also drag their own countrymen into the gutter with them.

          • Alan

            Putin looks like a Bond villian more and more everyday.

            That’s funny, because I was thinking the same thing. He just needs a white cat and he could be like Charles Gray who played one of the bond villains, forget the name, lol.

            If they want to resurect the soviet empire then they are doing it out of their own sense of ego.

            Not sure they could convince the ukrainians and georgians, and they will never get their hands on the baltics again. I reckon it will just be a kind of EU lite, although moscow will keep pushing for more.

            The only thing Russia has now is oil.

            True, a hell of a lot.

            Not even its military technologies are so sought after anymore. They are a bunch of myopic, tin pot dictators with no vision whatsoever. They will eventually be doomed- but the sad thing is that they will also drag their own countrymen into the gutter with them.

            That is the price of empire, it happened to britain, the ottomans…you can only stretch yourself so far, the same could be sad about the chinese…

        • http://thecapitalinthenorth.blogspot.com jixiang

          They are not communists in any way at all. They are die-hard nationalists and militarists who preside over a completely capitalist economy (croonism and nepotism are not incompatible with capitalism. They exist in every capitalist society).

      • Boris

        The Western Empire fell because of over-expansion and because wealthy landowners became so powerful that they could avoid paying taxes which were essential to such a huge bureaucracy.

        • typingfromwork

          Tax evasion and corruption… sounds like some other large country we all like to slag about here.

      • Lee McKinnis

        Look up “peak oil” prolly from the future this will be he ‘golden age’

    • eurotrash

      mate you having a laugh. i still chuckle when i think of Blighty being a super power. i mean, we occupied 3rd world countries and far away jail-me-continents. That compared to the Romans and the Holy Roman Empire Germanic Nation, is a bit of a wee joke.
      Hannibal and Dzinghis Khan weren’t too bad either.

      • mr. weiner

        The Brits were largely a commercial empire. And usually only wanted to hold ground that was on important shipping routes Malaca, Gibralta Egypt, S.A etc. They had lost all interest in holding real estate in Europe [continental] after the “100 years war”. It certainly made them the richest empire in the world at the time. America followed the same path [After a bit of bargain basement buy ups and pushing the Spanish around] China will follow suit which is a departure from it’s traditional “middle kingdom” stance.
        Temijun was da man, but Hannibal? great tacticion, horrible strategian.

  • typingfromwork

    Shanghaifags feeling the pinch, eh? I actually thought Pudong was pretty well planned when I went, there were actually wide open spaces between scrapers instead of the claustrophobia of HK, NY and Chicago. But then they had to build all that shit over somewhere that’s sinking. Someone didn’t pass their geology 101, it would seem.

  • Chinggis was here

    The Govt can just blame foreign imperialists for humiliating China and turning a sleepy, harmonious fishing village into a capitalist roader trading port and metropolis.

    • themig

      mongolian comrade, i agree with you totally, the only thing westward china should emulate are the pyramids, the buildings look like japanese swords

  • Kate

    上海 is becoming 下海!

    • http://www.wtchina.freeforums.org Elijah

      Comment of the Article:

      Kate for pun-tastic humour!

      +1 Kate

  • 童子蛋

    what do you expect?
    it is Chinese construction

    • donscarletti

      My thought too, plenty of cracked pavement in other cities too. It happens for a number of reasons, badly mixed concrete with poor quality cement, poorly chosen aggregate or simply the wrong amount of water a big one. Poor drainage allowing water to erode the soil underneath, or pouring concrete onto topsoil is another.

      A lot of halfarsary goes into concrete laying in China. While this is not to say that Shanghai is not sinking, shitty pavements are nothing new.

    • elizabeth

      The city’s planners would probably have made provisions for possible collapses and emergencies like fires and explosions. That is one reason why urban planners all over the whole prescribe minimum setbacks and distances between buildings. Architects also design for safety, just like how tall buildings in Japan are designed to be ‘earthquake tolerant’.

      As a case in point, someone has analyzed how Shanghai Tower currently under construction, would collapse ‘safely’ here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shape,_structure_and_possible_collapse_mode_of_Shanghai_Tower.jpg

      But if you are a fan of the scaremongers, visit Shanghai as soon as you can before it is no more!

  • Ben

    I take it that they have not built them on solid bedrock. The ground is too soft to support such construction.

    That is why New York is kind of unique. The bedrock is close to the surface. And the buildings are built on a solid connection to the earth’s crust.

    • 童子蛋

      well said i was about to mention that
      China always think they could build where ever it has a land

  • http://youhaeseriousissues.com Capt. WED

    how deep is the foundation? I remember watching some show where they build an skyscraper (or some heavy building) on some shit ground, so they build this fancy foundation.

    It’s probably safe, nothing to worry about. cracking is nothing.

  • Peye

    Let’s hear from some engineers who know what they are talking about. Looks to me as if the settling takes place in the fill around the buildings perhaps in areas where underground services (water,sewer,electrical) where installed. Just my guess. To built in river delta sediment has to be done with forsight and great care. Often haste makes waste. Be interesting to know if there are cracks on the below ground levels in the inside of the buildings. Besides my understanding is that some of the buildings are Japanese owned /designed/built. Not to sure about that.

  • Zhu DM

    Watch BBC’s “Earth: The Biography.” In one of the segments, it illustrates that the only reason New York City can accommodate such heavy skyscrapers is because of the massive amount of bedrock that sits beneath the city. I am sure there were some smart geologists and civil engineers hard at work at determining whether the Pudong area’s land could accommodate such heavy buildings…

  • Cleo

    omigod, you feebs, this is a LARGE underdeveloped Third World country with 900 million poor people – WHY are you building the skyscraper versions of bedazzled McMansions at the MOUTH of a river where it meets the OCEAN?

    Harroh!? Why can’t everybody be smart like Kim Jong Il.

    And what is going to happen to Disney Shanghai? Will it ever really be built or will it be relocated to a hundred miles inland – how about Wuhan? It’s a lovely place with lovely people!

    • Lee McKinnis

      SECOND WORLD country. Also they built it there, because it is ‘strategic’. Remember Chicago’s city center used to be a swamp as well before it was drained and had drainage systems installed.

  • Appalled@everything

    Are those even cracks? Look more like your average Chinese paving jobs to me.

    • Stimpy

      Right. A lot of speculation, but it honestly just looks like a bad construction job to me, not cracks caused by sinking buildings.

  • notorious

    scary.

    with cracks like that in the ground, i give this building 3 years tops. heaven forbid.

    • http://candosino.wordpress.com terroir

      They’re building another tall building beside the two already erected.

      It will be even taller.

  • Castro

    Ok, dumb question #1 –
    will/can one of those bldgs fall over ?

    I think we would all like to hear from an expert, but my guess is there are not too many engineers reading CS.

    • White Thrash

      like dominoes !

  • Foreign Devil

    Those are tiny surface cracks. When huge metre wide or bigger crevices open up or giant car swallowing sinkholes. . then there will be cause for concern. . not just some minor erosion and shifting in the topsoil. . .

    • Oxunion

      Correct, this isnt just happening in pudong. I have seen it in outlying areas, far away from high risers.

    • http://candosino.wordpress.com terroir

      These are just cracks, sure. But: coupled with the fact that they are so many and so long in length and along with the fact that Shanghai is sinking, I’d be worried if I own real esate in Pudong.

      Also: Pudong is a swamp. It wasn’t used for much besides farming before the 90’s rush, and see where it’s coming to? They apparently rammed foundations the length of the building into the quagmire, but we’ve seen what happens to newly erected buildings in China that have also been erected upon damp foundations.

  • anonymous

    I hope these photos are not photoshopped… i.e not deceptive? In other words, I hope there is no subsidence problem in Shanghai. Or elsewhere, for that matter.

  • Alan

    Most iconic?

    New York or Chicago could perhaps claim they have an iconic skyline. I showed photos of new york at night to my chinese students and they were all pretty much awestruck.

    Cock and balls and shiny corporate glossy towers. Nothing beautiful to me about that. If we want to play mine is bigger, China is getting left behind, Burj Khalifa in Dubai (also horrible, yet impressively tall) and now this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/world/asia/azerbaijan-tallest-tower-planned.html?_r=1

    Tall buildings don’t make a great country….that needs to be learned!

    • Jess

      “One of the” most iconic. Which it is.

      • Alan

        But not the most iconic.

      • Cleo

        There’s no point in being too openly fantastic or singular since we still have Petty Japan to worry about. If we don’t stay mired in golliwogness, Japanese will definitely reenact terrorist behavior whilst in China such as attacking young girls in the street by ripping off their clothes while a partner records the “adventure” or sneaking up behind girls with perfect straight long hair in movie theaters and cutting off their hair as the Japanese did to the Chinese before official declaration of war. LAY LOW and ugly yourselves up because we are NO match for them. They are capable of putting pins in slices of bread sold at THEIR local convenience stores. Don’t let them smell your fresh scent in the midst of the Walking Dead or they will eat your children AGAIN.

        • Alan

          Bukkake mo fos!

        • staylost

          All bow to the power of propaganda!

    • Lee McKinnis

      I live in Chicago, and I would say Shanghai is more ‘iconic’. It’s a larger city with mas construction. It’s like NYC from 1870-1920 or so I guess.

  • http://www.matthewsawtell.com Matthew A. Sawtell

    Okay… so how much construction was done on top of ‘fill’ versus digging down to the bedrock to establish good footings for support?

    • http://gmail ARREZ D’CORRUP

      THEY MAY HAVE SKIPPED THAT IMPORTANT PART TO MAKE MORE MONEY!

      CAPITALISM IS CORRUPTION!

  • huh?

    Why do none of these new articles not have chinese commenter reactions? i my chinasmack experience is diminished….

  • manusan

    a giant with feet of clay

  • Irvin

    We can always put some balloons on the roof.

  • ryan

    What happened to having Chinese comments with every story? Honestly, that’s a lot of why I come to the site. Some of the stories are funny by themselves and, as a man, I have to admit liking some of the more scenic stories (for the lingerie), but seeing what the Chinese think about things was the really interesting part.

  • Mademyday

    I cant imagine the building falling down, seriously sth should be done to fix it, and i dont think buildings will cause cracks on ground, concrete has its lifetime and reinforcing periodically is required, in fact excluding japan, all countries aren’t doing well in construction of massive builds in asia, for example a 5-story shopping mall that collapsed in korea, due to curruption and poor engineering skills. sigh. My dad is shanghainese and i hope nothing catastrophic happens to shanghai.

  • http://gmail OVERSEAS READER

    It looks like just bad workmanship and lack of proper material used inthe construction.

    Many overseas visitors have observed that the Chinese may build lovley skcrapers etc buy they don’t do proper maintenace.

    May be the buildings will soon collapse from lack of maintenance too!

    • http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/ Mike Linksvayer

      “Since 2003, Shanghai has been sinking under the weight of tons of concrete and steel at a rate of about 1.5 centimeters per year, prompting city officials to limit the construction of some skyscrapers. Over the past century, it has sunk over 2 meters.”

      1.5cm*100=1.5m

      How about changing the headline to “Weight of Shanghai’s skyscraper’s buoying city”?

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  • MadeInChina

    Easy fix…just photoshop the cracks so their no longer there.

  • Derek Xu

    I guess Chinese civil engineering degrees are fake, or this would not happen.

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  • http://chinasweat.blogspot.com/ Mike Lovett

    Well, it is built on a delta, right? Unless the bedrock is very strong and stable, like it is in Manhatten and Hong Kong, both of which sit on very stable bedrock, then I would say Shanghai is in for a rude disaster in the near future.

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