The shanghai tower is one of the leading financial centers in East Asian countries. The tower is located in the Lujiazui district, in Pudong. The construction of the tower started in 2009.

Gensler Architects designed The Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is popular for its Lujiazui skyline. This tower adds more glory to it. It is the world’s second-tallest building with a height of 632 meters (2073 ft.). It incorporates 127 floors. The tower’s design is in such a way that the general public gathering areas are vertical rather than spreading horizontally across the city.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
tall buildings

Public areas like retailers, restaurants, and different urban amenities are on higher levels. This is to provide a whole new experience of living and working. Gensler Company designed the tower through a global multi-staged design competition. Moreover, it is one of the three important buildings representing the past, present, and future of Shanghai city.


The Chinese economic reforms began within the 1980s. They have remodeled the Lujiazui district in Shanghai from farmland to financial center in just two decades. The speedy urbanization then needed new designing and planning methods to foster the high-density development. Each one of them has its own ‘sky garden’ for interacting. It also creates a sense of community. In the case of towers, the dwelling is vertically one over the other rather than horizontally.

Triangular plan of the tower

As per the government bye-laws, 33% of the total site area is under landscaping. However, the idea behind the landscape design comes from the precedents of temples, towers, palaces settle amidst gardens. Moreover, the park designed at the base of the tower connects the architecture of the structure with nature. This encouraged the people to engage with the variety of outdoor spaces and enjoy the landscape. This park can accommodate large gatherings as well as intimate conversations.

Case study of Shanghai tower

  • Architects: Gensler
  • City: Shanghai
  • Country: China
  • Year: 2015
  • Total Above Grade: 380,000 m2
  • Below Grade: 196,000 m2
  • Client: Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd
  • Interior Designer: Gensler (Retail, Public Space)
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  •  MEP: Cosentini
  •  Wind Tunnel Testing: Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (RWDI)
  • Vertical Transportation: Edgett Williams Consulting Group, Inc. (EWCG)
  • Fire Protection and Life Safety: RJA Fire Protection Technology Consulting (RJA)
  • Building Façade: Aurecon Engineer Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (Aurecon)
  • Landscape: SWA
  • Lighting: PHA /Tower; BPI/ Podium, Crown and Interior
  • Acoustical: SM&W
  • Parking: Walker Parking Consultants
  • General Contractor: Shanghai Construction Group (SCG)
  • Steel Structure Construction: Shanghai Mechanized Construction Corporation Ltd., (SMCC)
  • Curtain Wall Contractor: Yuanda (Exterior curtain wall); Jiangho (interior curtain wall); Lingyun (Podium curtain wall)
  • Structural System: Super Column-Concrete Core-Outrigger Consultants
  • Total Project Cost: $2.2 Billion
  • Total Construction Cost: $1.54 Billion

Evolution of form:

Shanghai majorly experience typhoon-force winds. Also, it is an active earthquake zone and the soil is clayey, typical of a river delta. Keeping these constraints in mind, the structural engineers sought to simplify the building structure. Also, the architect followed three key strategies to allow the building to withstand these winds. They are asymmetrical form, tapering profile, rounded corners. Apart from this, the design of the tower is inspired by Shanghai traditions. Moreover, the spirals depict the dynamic emergence of modern China.

Architect Gensler and structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti conducted a wind tunnel test in a Canadian lab to refine the tower’s form. This resulted in a lighter structure which reduced wind loads by 24 percent. Also reduced the construction cost by $58 million in costly materials.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
Rounded triangular floor plates

The building form was complex. Thus, the conventional computer-aided design tools were not sufficient for the designing purpose of the façade. Moreover, the facade has 20,000+ curtain wall panels including 7000 unique shapes. The architect used parametric software to create a system. This system balances performance, constructability, maintenance, and design. Lasers take measurements with precise tolerances.

Evolution of form

Also, Read Kanchanjunga Apartments by Charles Correa: A climate-based

Structural System of Shanghai tower:

The core of the tower is concrete about 30 meters square. The core acts in harmony with the outrigger and super column system. Also, there are four pairs of super columns, one at each end of each orthonormal axis. In addition to this, there are four diagonals along each 45-degree axis as there is long-distance at the base between the main orthogonal columns. As a result, the 50 meters distance is reduced to 25 meters.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
Structural details
Structural details

Geometry of tower:

The spiral form was generated from a rounded triangular plan. Also, this unique form was inspired by the relationship between the curved bank of Huangpu River, Jin Mao Tower, and the Shanghai World Financial Center.

In addition, the tower was designed according to three main components which were parametrically modified and twisted.

  • Horizontal profile:

The horizontal profile of the tower is an equilateral triangle with smooth edges. In addition, this is derived from two tangential curves. Two variables are responsible for shaping the profile of the tower. They are the radius of the large circle and its location to the center of the equilateral triangle.

  • Vertical profile:

The lower profile of the tower is wide accommodating the market and office spaces whereas the upper plans have a short span for the hotels. The vertical profile of the tower is formed by tapering the ground horizontal profile with the upper one. This resulted in a right circular cone.

  • Rate of twist:

Furthermore, different rotation angles were used to find out the best angle for the design. The architect worked on two variables to generate different alternatives for the geometry of the tower. They are the percentage of tapering operation and the angle of a twisting process. Two different models on the scale of 1:85 and 1:500 are examined using wind tunnel tests to determine the best design that can bear the wind loads.

As a result, the form is tapered by 55% and twisted by 120 degrees. This resulted in a light elegant tower which saved 32% of the estimated construction materials.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
Shanghai Tower, China

Vertical zoning of Shanghai tower:

The tower consists of 121storeys and 9 vertical zones. Further, each zone divides into 12-15 floors with a public space balcony within curtain walls. The lowest ground zone is occupied by an open market that connects the tower with outside spaces like Shanghai’s metro.

Balcony with curtain walls

Also, Read The Aqua tower , dynamic and bracketed, by Studio Gang.

Also, the podium zone is occupied by stores and restaurants. The middle zone has offices. Also, the top zone has hotels with observation decks. Each office zone has a sky garden for community gatherings.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
Shanghai Tower, China
The neighborhood of the Shanghai Tower

BIM implementation in Shanghai Tower:

The shanghai tower is the tallest tower in China. Also the second tallest in the world after Burj Khalifa in Dubai. An architecture revolution is going in China currently especially in the skyscrapers and stadium construction. The tower is a remarkable and efficient work of project management. A mega tall tower which is one of its kind needs proper management and coordination of all the different teams working together at the same time.

The tower is a multi-functional building with 9 different functional zones (market, offices, shops, hotels). Moreover, it has 7 different structural systems. Also, more than 30 electrical, mechanical and intelligent subsystems. The construction of the tower employed more than 30 consulting companies in architecture, structure, mechanical and electrical engineering, fire protection, curtain wall design, and a dozen of subcontractors in structure, foundation, and masonry.

All this came together with help of an effective project management team. It was a big challenge for the project managers to find an effective strategy for the coordination system. Also, the search ended on the Building Information Technology (BIM). Moreover, this technology helped in achieving flexible unison between all disciplines through one platform.

BIM is a unified platform that allows all the disciplines of design to share their files. It also helps in collaborating, coordinating, and sharing data. Moreover, it creates a database for all design and construction phases.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
The construction process of the Shanghai Tower

Sustainable technique at Shanghai tower:

Shanghai Tower is a sustainable tall building. It is a LEED gold-rated as well as China 3 star rated building. Also, there is a transparent second skin that wraps the whole building. It reduces the heat gain in the building. Ventilated atriums conserve energy by adjusting the temperature within the void. This space acts as a buffer between the outside and inside. This keeps the cold air warm when it enters the tower in winters. Also, dissipates heat from the tower in summers keeping the space cool.

Additionally, a water treatment plant is present on-site that recycles greywater and stormwater. This water further goes into flush and irrigation. To reduce pumping energy, a water treatment plant is present at the basement as well as podium levels within the tower.

Additionally, the domestic water system uses an interim water storage tank within the towers. This also allows gravity to maintain the water pressure. Low-pressure pumps pump water to each tank in a cascading arrangement. This reduced the source water consumption by 38%.

In conclusion, the Shanghai Tower is shaping the role of tall buildings for many years to come.

Sustainably advanced tall building: Shanghai tower, China.
Curtain walls in Shanghai Tower

Also, Read Petronas twin towers

Don’t miss the latest case study!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Discover more from archEstudy

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


Leave a Reply