When you hear people mention Shanghai, what comes to mind? I’m pretty sure most people will think of delicious Shanghai xiao long bao, the Oriental Pearl Tower, or China’s biggest city and financial hub. However, there will be one more item to add to the list with the soon-to-be-opened Shanghai Tower, which comes with a ‘twist’ – literally.
Standing at an eyewatering 632 metres, Shanghai Tower is Asia’s tallest skyscraper and the second tallest building in the world, after the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The building has a softened triangular “outer skin” of glass and steel twisted around its circular core, sending the tapering tower spiraling into the sky.
It’s more than just aesthetics, though. Besides giving it a unique design, the double layer also acts to insulate the building, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter, as well as reducing wind stress. Many liken it to a strand of DNA thanks to its twisting design. American chief architect Marshall Strabala describes the building as “a giant Thermos bottle”, but the vacuum flask metaphor is an overly simplified way to picture the mind-numbing complexity involved in balancing the design, safety requirements, engineering, building codes and client demands that shaped the tower.
Located in Shanghai’s Pudong financial district, which didn’t even exist 25 years ago, the skyscraper is a symbol of China’s future. A white stone structure dubbed the “River Wall” on the lower floors divides the building into east and west, just like how the city itself is split into Pudong 浦东 (financial) and Puxi 浦西 on either side of the Huangpu River. Not surprisingly, the Pudong side of the building is all offices and business, while the Puxi side will house the retail and dining outlets. The building has 128 storeys, with floor numbers having the number 4 (which sounds like ‘death’ and is an unlucky number for Chinese) being expected to be replaced or shunned entirely. Office space will take up most of the building, with retail space occupying a mere four floors.
Although still dwarfed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the US$2.4 billion Shanghai Tower can still proudly lay claim to a host of superlative titles. It is the tallest double-facade building in the world, installed with the world’s fastest elevators travelling at 18 metres per second, and will house the world’s second highest hotel, located on the 84th to 110th floors.
Shanghai Tower already had its soft opening, with some tenants allowed into the building for interior construction, but an official public opening has yet to be announced. In the meantime, check out the video for a breathtaking view of the Shanghai Tower and surrounding cityscape!