Skidmore, Owings & Merril pass through the eye of a needle

Proclaimed winners of the competition for the new Greenland tower in China

by Malcolm Clark
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American architects Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP have been declared winners of the competition for the new Greenland Group's Greenland Tower Suzhou Center, with their idea of a tower which envisages an enormous opening, similar to the eye of a needle, over 30 stories high. The new building, the sixth designed by the American office for the Chinese group shall be built on the banks of lake Taihu, in the region of Wuijang, and will be 358 metres high.

Its 75 storeys will accommodate offices, shops, apartments and even a large hotel. The enormous opening which goes through the middle of the building will separate the apartments of the eastern side from those on the western side and it will behave like an enormous ventilation channel. This element is the key to the operation of the whole building, through which the daylight penetration will be maximised and a favourable microclimate inside the building will be generated.

This “vertical atrium” is the lung through which this building breathes, by intercepting and taming the winds for summer cooling and operating like a gigantic greenhouse in the winter months. The aim is to achieve the objective of a 60% reduction of both electrical energy and potable water consumption, compared to the standard of similar American buildings.

The strategies for energy saving include a high performance façade with opening and screens to optimise the contribution of natural ventilation and light harvesting. Furthermore all the energy requirements will be managed by a single control system inside the building which will monitor all the activities, maintaining the highest global efficiency standards.

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    Greenland Tower 31

    Greenland Tower

    Suzhou / China / 2012