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Named the tallest building in China, the Canton Tower.

Named the tallest building in China, the Canton Tower. Arup’s structural engineers used parametric associative software to generate and refine the geometry and they linked this data to analytical and drafting software. The final structure is both simple and complex – it is essentially a concrete core wrapped in a triangular network composed of structural steel, concrete-filled columns, rings and diagonal tubes. This tower is designed specifically to withstand the typhoon climate of Guangzhou, which is sometimes assailed by super fast winds.


The interiors are as strikingly futuristic as the building, with features like outdoor gardens set within the structure. A large open-air observation landscape provides marvellous views over the city of Guangzhou. With its stature and elegant design the Canton Tower is well poised to become one of the major attractions in China as well as the world.

The tower was designed by Information Based Architecture and Arup. The Arup team led by structural engineer Prof. Dr. Joop Paul introduced near mass customisation to the joint design, in combination with parametric design methods, and applied a simple structural concept of three elements: columns, rings and braces, to this more complex geometry.



The waist of the tower contains a 180 m open-air skywalk where visitors can physically climb the tower. There are outdoor gardens set within the structure, and at the top, just above 450 m a large open-air observation deck. The outdoor public observatory is 488 m above the ground, which takes the form of terraced elliptical space, approximately the size of a small city square. Opened in December 2011, it is currently the highest and largest outdoor observation deck in the World. 

A deck at the base of the tower hides the tower's functional workings. All infrastructural connections –  metro and bus stations – are situated underground. This level also includes exhibition spaces, a food court, a parking area for cars and coaches. There are two types of lifts, slow-speed panoramic and high-speed double-decker.



The zone from 80 to 170 m consists of a 4D cinema, a play-hall area, restaurants, coffee shops and outdoor gardens with tea houses. An open-air staircase, the Skywalk, starts at the height of 170 metres and spirals almost 200 metres higher, all the way through the waist.

The top zone of the tower begins above the stairway, housing a variety of technical functions as well as a two-storey rotating restaurant, a damper and the upper observation levels. From the upper observation levels it is possible to ascend even higher, via a further set of the stairs, to a terraced observation square rising above the tower's top ring.



Sixteen transparent "crystal" passenger cars, each with a diameter of 3.2 m and able to carry four to six people, travel on a track round the edge of the tower's roof, taking between 20 and 40 minutes to circumnavigate the rooftop.  

At night, the tower glows and emits light with 7,000 LED light fixtures light the rings of the tower's structure each from underneath, to form a continuous glow.  Every node in the lighting design is individually controllable to allow for animations and colour changes across the entire height of the tower. The lighting scheme consumes only 15% of the allowed maximum for facade lighting.

(Inhabitat)




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