Part 1


Image courtesy of Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Architects: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

International Design Architect: Vincent Callebaut Architectures, SARL Paris

Local Architect: LKP Design, Taipei

Area: 4233534.0 m2

Project:  Year; 2017

Structural Engineer: King Le Chang & Associates, Taipei

Local MEP Engineering: Sine &Associates, Taipei

Green Consultant: Enertek, Taipei

Green Certification: U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Gold + Low Carbon Building Alliance, Diamond Level

Vincent Callebaut Architectures has released in-progress images of their Tao Zhu Yin Yuan sustainable tower, under construction in the Xinyin District of Taipei City, Taiwan.

Image courtesy of Vincent Callebaut Architectures

The tower’s rotating form draws inspiration from the double helix structure of DNA and will be covered in 23,000 trees in its aim to become a pioneering sustainable residential eco-construction that finds “the right symbiosis between the human being and the Nature. After being awarded the project commission in a 2010 competition, Vincent Callebaut architectures set out to create a building “like an inhabited tree” that could create a fragment of vertical landscape with minimal energy consumption.

Image courtesy of Vincent Callebaut Architectures

The design consists of a 20-story tower that completes a 90-degree twist as it rises – a 4.5 degree turn level. This form was chosen based on four criteria to integrate into the pyramidal profile of the building volume determined by urban setbacks; to generate a maximum area for cascading, suspended open-air gardens; to offer panoramic views of the Taipei skyline to all residents; and to provide each apartment unit with privacy by avoiding direct visual axes.

The project addresses four ecologic objectives of the copenhagen accord 

  • Reduction of global warming 
  • Protection of biodiversity.
  • Protection of the environment and quality of life
  • Management natural resources and waste




The tower has also been eco-designed to take advantage of the climatic and environmental conditions of its site. VCA conducted sunlight, thermal and wind analyses to fine tune the design, optimizing natural light and ventilation throughout the building.

In addition, the large planted areas will allow the building to absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide from the air annually.

Floorplans of the units follow two typical layouts on alternating floors, so to best fit into the Vierendeel beam structure. Each unit contains 550 square meters of column free floorspace, allowing for maximum flexibility of the interior layouts.

Additional amenities will include a swimming pool and fitness center, and several levels of integrated parking.

The luxurious residences are accompanied by a lush park and plaza
Interior view of the pool
Curved programming characterizes the vertical ‘green core’ in the main entry lobby
A below-grade care park is well lit and ventilated with the glazed design

Site view:

Structural evolution:

Elevation and mass diagram:


The central core of the building features a double skin curtain wall system, that enables passive climate control for the vertical circulation and inner spaces. Other environmental features include a rainwater recycling system, low e-glass, a photovoltaic solar array on the roof and canopies, energy-saving lifts and automated energy saving monitors that adapt to climatic conditions.


  •  CTBUH Award 2015: Innovation Award 2015 Award of Excellence
  • German design award 2018: Excellent Communications Design Architecture.


The Shanghai Tower is a skyscraper  located in Shanghai’s Lujiazui financial district. When it was completed in late-2015, it was the second tallest building in the world becoming the third to achieve ‘megatall’ status (over 600 m )

This majestic skyline is the 632-metre high Shanghai Tower, designed by architect Gensler. As it is the second tallest tower in the world when we visited but closely rivalled by another Chinese tower, Tianjin 117 in north China designed by P+T Group that comes in at 596.5metres. The project started in November 2008 and is just about to complete at a cost of around £1.5 billion.

China loves a world record, and its new building boasts plenty, including the world’s fastest elevators, highest hotel and restaurant, and tallest viewing platform. Awarded the top green rating, LEED Platinum, the government is hailing the tower as a sign of China’s growing green credentials. But most importantly, the 128-storey tower also claims to be the world’s greenest skyscraper.

  • Shops at the base.
  • Office in the center.
  • Hotels in the center.
  • Cultural facilities towards the top.
  • An observation deck at the very top


Ironically, the initial futuristic concept was to take a ‘traditional’ Shanghai street, including its mobility patterns, street life, courtyards and social mix – and transfer it into a vertical form. This urban ambition for a vertical street has been around for a while in architecture but this building goes a long way to capture some of its intensity.

Gensler’s design team anticipated that three key strategies—the tower’s asymmetrical form, its tapering profile and its rounded corners—that would allow the building to withstand the typhoon-force winds that are common in Shanghai. The tower has a curved and twisted form which makes a 120-degree rotation from base to top, the first of its kind in the world.

Why Green building?

China’s sustainability record in the past has been abysmal. The country burns 47% of the worlds coal, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and is facing the impact of decades of rapid deforestation and water pollution. With some of the most polluted air on the planet, killing as many as 4000 people a day an increasingly restive population is demanding more government action.

Green buildings, however, make up a woefully small part of the green industry, with most work focused on quick construction and quicker sales. Estimates put the number of green buildings on the mainland at less than 1%, though a 2014 target by the State Council wants 30%of new construction projects to be green by 2020.

In Shanghai, engineer Shunfu Cha points to 200 wind turbines spinning at the top of the tower – the world’s tallest turbines, naturally – which generate around 10% of the building’s electricity. “These are one of the most obvious green technologies,” he says, gesturing upwards into the clouds. “But only one part of bringing down the energy use.”


The tower takes the form of nine cylindrical buildings stacked atop each other that total 128 floors, all enclosed by the inner layer of the glass façade. Between that and the outer layer, which twists as it rises, nine indoor zones provide public space for visitors. They comprises gathering spaces that are stacked vertically, with ‘sky lobbies separating the different zones designed, by being naturally-lit plant-filled atrium, to confirm to the social environments of town plazas and courtyards.

To withstand Shanghai’s common typhoon-force winds, the tower was designed to have an asymmetrical form , a tapered profile and rounded corners. After wind tunnel testing, the towers form was refined which led to a 24% reduction in structural wind loading when compared to a rectangular building of comparable height. This meant the structure as a whole was lighter and materials savings of $58m were made.

The unique building  shape required more than 20,000 curtain wall panels, with more than 7,000 different shapes. The fabrications of so many individual components would have been unfeasibly complex and costly using traditional computer-aided design tools , but with parametric software and laser measuring technology, a ‘mass customization’ process was possible.

The tower is built on a 6-metre deep matt foundation that was poured with 61,000 cubic maters of concrete during a continuous 63-hour pour. A strong concrete core and steel, super columns support the tower , whilst ‘branches’ extend out at the base of each zone, marking the division of the building  into nine cylindrical sections. A 1,000-metric-ton tuned mass damper is positioned near the top of the tower  to counteract sway.

The transparent second skin that wraps  the entire building  allows in maximum daylight, while acting as an insulating blanket to conserve energy .This warms up the cool external air in winter and dissipates heat from the interior  in summer. The double curtain wall is suspended on massive cantilevered  trusses, and made stable by the use of hoop rings and struts.

As well as the glass skin, the tower’s energy efficiency, credentials are boosted by the fact that one-third of the site is green space by the employment of a trigeneration system (the use of a heat engine to generate electricity, cooling and useful heat  simultaneously), and a grey water/rainwater system. The exterior lighting for the tower is powered by 270 wind turbines that are built  into the façade. 

Achieving sustainability :

The building collects rainwater and re-uses waste water, has a combined cooling and heating power system and uses 40 other energy-saving measures that developers claim cut 34,000 metric tones from its annual carbon footprint. The building is wrapped in two layers of glass for natural cooling and ventilation, and in total developers say a third of the site is “green space”, including 24 sky gardens sitting between the two skins.

“At the moment, everyone is trying to achieve top green certification criteria,” says Xiaomei Lee, managing director of Gensler Shanghai, the building’s architect. “But nobody yet has achieved LEED Platinum for a supertall building. People assumed that a building of this size can’t achieve such a high sustainability rating.”

Shanghai Tower might be the only supertall tower to achieve LEED Platinum, but it is part of an increasing movement for towers to market green credentials as the demand for more sustainable urban development is felt.

The world’s first Passivhaus-certified office tower – a certification rating that considers ongoing annual energy use, considered more stringent than other energy codes – was opened in Vienna two years ago, using 80% less heating and cooling energy than an equivalent tower through efficient power systems. London’s tallest building, the Shard, also has a raft of sustainability features which enable it to use 30% less energy than a conventionally designed skyscraper of the same height. Globally, 75 skyscrapers are LEED rated.

The tower has faced problems attracting tenants due to the absence of all the necessary permits from the local fire department, and consequent impossibility to obtain the official occupancy permit. Following a report in June 2017, approximately 60% of its office space has been leased, but only 33% of those tenants have moved in, leaving entire floors of the tower empty; the luxury J hotel has also yet to open. The tower’s floor plate has an “efficiency rate of only 50 per cent on some floors, compared with 70 per cent for a typical [skyscraper]”, as the tower’s “much-talked-about outer skin, which is ideal for allowing in natural light and cuts down on air-conditioning costs… means much of the floor space can’t be used”

In 2020, major water leaks broke out from the 60th to the 9th floor of the tower which damaged a large quantity of office equipment and electronics. The tower said the problem was fixed and a comprehensive inspection would be taken on the floor where the leak originated. According to the local newspaper Shanghai observer , there were misinformation videos circulating online showing that the tower’s ceiling was collapsed, but was in fact from a shopping center in Nanning 2016.

Shanghai Skyline Sunset
128th floorMechanical layer 9
125th–127th floorConcert hall
Exhibition Hall
 Tuned mass damper display
122nd–124th floorMechanical layer 8
121st floorObservation deck
120th floorRestaurants
118th & 119th floorObservation deck
116th & 117th floorMechanical layer 7
111th–115th floorBoutique floors
110th floorVIP Business Center
105th–109th floorJ Hotel Presidential Suite, Super Deluxe Room
104th floorRestaurant, Spicy Hall, VIP Room
103rd floorTheme Restaurants, Luxury Boutique Wine Cellar, Banquet Hall
102nd floorCafeteria
101st floorJ Hotel Skylobby / Lounge, Sky Bar
99th & 100th floorMechanical layer 6
86th–98th floorJ Standard Hotel Rooms, Deluxe Rooms
85th floorSpa, fitness center
84th floorSwimming pool, Sky Lounge, Bar, Sky Gardens
82nd & 83rd floorMechanical layer 5
70th–81st floorOffice Zone 5
68th & 69th floorSky lobby
66th & 67th floorMechanical layer 4
54th–65th floorOffice Zone 4
52nd & 53rd floorSky lobby
50th & 51st floorMechanical layer 3
39th–49th floorOffice Zone 3
37th & 38th floorSky lobby
35th & 36th floorMechanical layer 2
24th–34th floorOffice Zone 2
22nd & 23rd floorSky lobby
20th & 21st floorMechanical layer 1
8th–19th floorOffice Zone 1
6th & 7th floorMechanical layer
5th floorConference Center
3rd & 4th floorShops and restaurants
2nd floorShanghai Center Grand Ballroom, Boutique Office Lobby, shops and restaurants
1st floorOffice lobby, hotel lobbies, shops and restaurants
B1Sightseeing Floor entrance, shops and restaurants
B2Subway station entrance, shops and restaurants
B3–B5Parking, cargo handling areas, hotels logistics, mechanical layer

Vertical transportation system:

The tower includes express elevators capable of taking passengers up to the observation level at over 18 m/sec (40 mph). The lift will be able to carry people from the second- level basement to the 119th floor in just 53 seconds.

In May 2016, the Mitsubishi electric Corporation announced that it would be installing its new elevator technology which had achieved a speed of 1,230 m/min, or 20.5 m/sec, the fastest elevator speed ever recorded.


ClimateShanghai has a humid subtropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 15.8 °C (60.4 °F) for urban districts and 15.2–15.7 °C (59.4–60.3 °F) for suburbs. The city experiences four distinct seasons.

Living expenses:

  • Family of four estimated monthly costs are 2,602$ (16,762¥) without rent.
  • A single person estimated monthly costs are 705$ (4,541¥) without rent.
  • Shanghai is 47.84% less expensive than New York (without rent).
  • Rent in Shanghai is, on average, 56.58% lower than in New York
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