Tower of the 99 Islands – China builds floating attraction in Shenzhen

While the cities of the west are still characterized by buildings that can be described as needles made of steel and glass, in Asia one looks for forms that combine technology and nature. Huge “trees” are popular, for example, which consist of a steel skeleton and are planted with hanging plants.

So far, Shenzhen in China has mainly been known as a special economic zone. Now they want to treat themselves to a spectacular landmark tower that will architecturally enhance the bay of the Qianhaiwan district. The Chinese are not afraid of grand gestures. In the ideas competition for the “New City Center Landmark”, the design of a floating tower by Sou Fujimoto Architects prevailed.

The bar was set as high as possible. The competition called for the building to redefine what a “tower” was in the 21st century. And the building should draw attention like the Eiffel Tower once did.

Architecture becomes a statement

The basic question is valid. Towers were once primarily military buildings, the family towers of Tuscany are a testament to this era. In the age of electricity and radio waves, the giant transmission towers were born. However, transmission towers have long since ceased to be technically necessary. So why a tower?

The design by Sou Fujimoto Architects is above all a statement, a huge sculpture and looks like something straight out of a science fiction film. It is 268 meters high and consists of 99 individual segments. In the upper part, 99 islands are airily connected to form a horizontal plateau. Not all 99 segments reach the ground, most hanging between the central core and the outer ring. The shape of the tower tapers significantly downwards, making it appear as if the platform is floating over the bay. This impression is reinforced by a “waterfall” of Kevlar cables that anchor the platform to the ground. Presumably, these supports are permanently surrounded by water. The top level serves as an observation deck and doubles as an exhibition space with enough space for a restaurant and café.

Simple, hard and solid building materials create a flowing, light and agile structure. The tower is intended to become a symbol for the “future of societies in an age of diversity”. Such significant buildings are in fashion in China, recently the Danish architectural office presented a building called “O-Tower. The structure has the shape of an infinity loop.

source site-5