Shanghai Tower, China

World's second-tallest tower with double-skin, helix façade

  • Aurecon: Facades and building services engineering design
  • Clients: Façade designed with Gensler Architects
  • Completion date: February 2016

“Shanghai Tower is a landmark achievement – both in terms of size and sustainability. It is an excellent example of collaboration between structure, façade and architecture, and is setting new benchmarks in tall building façade design.” – Roger Manho, Technical Director, Aurecon.

At the time of its topping out in August 2015, the Shanghai Tower was China’s tallest structure and the centrepiece of the city's skyline. And upon completion, the Shanghai Tower, with the Jin Mao Tower and SWFC forms the world's first adjacent grouping of three supertall buildings. With a distinctive helix-like façade, it is also the world’s tallest double skin building.

This project was a close collaboration between Gensler Architects and Aurecon. Aurecon was engaged to provide facade engineering design with Gensler Architects and support on the building services engineering design and documentation.

This involved integrating services design with environmentally sustainable design objectives, the structural framework and varying surface geometry. To achieve this, we undertook extensive analysis to address the building’s complex design issues.

Aurecon also undertook extensive building science, geometric analysis and briefed wind tunnel testing to address the building’s complex design issues, integrating sustainable design objectives, the structural framework and varying surface geometry.

The project’s unique double layer system combines an inner façade with a fully unitised curtain wall with a warped outer surface. The façade system design achieves tolerances from -10 millimetre to +19 millimetre from thermal, wind pressure, seismic load, fabrication and installation movements.

The tower’s intelligent skin is setting new benchmarks in tall building façade design, with the innovative upward spiral design reducing wind loads and capturing rainwater for air-conditioning and central heating.

In 2019, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) recognised Shanghai Tower as one of '50 Most Influential Tall Buildings of the Last 50 years'.

The helix-like façade was also recognised by:

The project was also shortlisted for the prestigious Institution of Structural Engineers Structural Awards 2016, in the Commercial or Retail category.

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