Industrial flues aren’t exactly a design feature most of the time. Rising up into the sky and emitting plumes of steam and gases, they’re more often associated with pollution than beauty. But the new
Not only does the Tower of Light make this industrial facility a lot more beautiful on the outside, it puts on
The tower’s unusual form derives from “Shell Lace Structure,” a biomimetic structural technique developed by Tonkin Liu in collaboration with engineers at Arup. This innovative technique uses digital design, engineering analysis, and advanced manufacturing tools to achieve complex organic shapes without compromising structural stability. The technique is inspired by the structures of mollusk shells, which gain their strength from optimized curvilinear geometry. Strategically placed perforations give the shell a lightweight quality while spreading loads in multiple directions. The Tower of Light is now the largest Shell Lace Structure ever built.
“The Shell Lace Structure technique represents an adaptive approach to architecture that allows for enhanced means of expression as well as additional opportunities to respond to site, structure, and climatic requirements,” say the architects. “The technique is multi-faceted and by involving both the hand and the machine in its design process, Shell Lace Structure enables us to regain intuition whilst wielding the speed, craft, and precision inherent in digital tools.”
The architects call the street facade enclosing the new energy center “Wall of Energy.” Visually complementing the tower, this facade features glazed ceramic tiles to reflect light and movement from clouds in the sky as well as human activity on the street to give it an ever-changing appearance. The shape of the tiles is inspired by “the dynamic energy of earth’s movements, as seen in patterns left in the sand by ocean waves,” Tonkin Liu explains.
The energy center itself is known as the Civic Quarter Heat Network (CQHN) and Energy Center, providing the neighborhood with low-carbon energy. It’s powered by an engine and two gas boilers, and designed so that