Extreme Engineering – Guangzhou TV (Canton) Tower – 广州塔 (广州电视观光塔)

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Canton Tower, or Guangzhou Tower (simplified Chinese: 广州塔; traditional Chinese: 廣州塔), formally Guangzhou TV Astronomical and Sightseeing Tower (Chinese: 广州电视台天文及观光塔), is a 595.7 metres (1,954 ft) tall multi-purpose observation tower in the Haizhu District of Guangzhou (historically known as Canton or Kwangchow), Guangdong, China. The tower was topped out in 2009 and it became operational on 29 September 2010 for the 2010 Asian Games. The tower briefly held the title of tallest tower in the world, replacing the CN Tower, before being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree. It was the tallest structure in China prior to the topping out of Shanghai Tower on 3 August 2013. It is now the second tallest tower and the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world. There had been a long discussion about the naming of the Canton Tower since the commencement of its construction in 2005 after the groundbreaking ceremony. In September 2009, at the request of the tower’s investor, Guangzhou Daily launched a contest for naming proposals. The contest attracted over 180,000 valid entries, among which “Haixin Tower” (Chinese: 海心塔; literally: “Tower in the Sea”) was awarded the first prize. The name alluded to the city’s historical setting as the start of the Maritime Silk Road and the tower’s geographical proximity to Haixinsha Island. However, this name was considered obscure to people unfamiliar with the history of the city. Local residents continued to refer to the tower by various nicknames including “Slim Waist” (Chinese: 小蛮腰), “Twisted Firewood” (Chinese: 扭纹柴; a metaphor for “stubborn” in Cantonese) and “Yangdianfeng” (Chinese: 羊巅峰; literally: “Peak of the Ram City”; homophonic to “epilepsy” in colloquial Chinese). The naming was reconsidered in 2010. After surveying a broad range of public opinions, “Canton Tower” was decided as the official name and announced at the end of September 2010. The new English name, alluded to the city’s prosperous past, was considered the most identifying and least ambiguous among the multitude of proposals. Guangzhou Tower was constructed by Guangzhou New Television Tower Group who were responsible for the construction. The Canton Tower is designed by the Dutch architects Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit of Information Based Architecture, together with Arup, the international design, engineering and business consulting firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. In 2004, Information Based Architecture and Arup won the international competition, in which many internationally large architectural offices participated. The same year the IBA – Arup team in Amsterdam, developed the tower’s concept design. In later stages, IBA cooperated mainly with the local Chinese office of Arup and a Local Design Institute. Subsequently, in 2005, the groundbreaking of the Canton Tower took place. The tower, although not fully completed, opened to the public on 1 October 2010 in time for the 16th Asian Games, hosted by Guangzhou in November 2010. The rooftop observatory finally received its official opening in December 2011. The Canton tower’s twisted shape or hyperboloid structure corresponds to the Russian Empire patent No. 1896, dated 12 March 1899 received by Vladimir Shukhov, the Russian engineer and architect. The structure is similar to the Adziogol Lighthouse (designed by Vladimir Shukhov in 1910) in Ukraine’s Dnepr delta. 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 (590 ft) 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 (1,480 ft), a large open-air observation deck. The interior of the tower is subdivided into programmatic zones with various functions, including TV and radio transmission facilities, observatory decks, revolving restaurants, computer gaming, restaurants, exhibition spaces, conference rooms, shops, and 4D cinemas.

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