Canton Tower, formerly known as Guangzhou TV and Sightseeing Tower, is an observation tower near Chigang Pagoda, Haizhu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. It was topped-out in 2009 and became operational on September 29, 2010 for the 2010 Asian Games. The tower briefly held the title of tallest completed tower in the world, replacing the CN Tower, which had previously held the title for 34 years, before being surpassed by Tokyo Sky Tree in 2011. It is still the tallest structure in China (followed by Shanghai World Financial Center), the Canton Tower is the seventh tallest structure and the third tallest freestanding structure in the world. It is named after "Canton", the traditional European name of the city.
The tower is designed by the Dutch architects Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit of Information Based Architecture together with Arup, the international design, engineering and business consulting firm headquartered in London, UK. 2004, Information Based Architecture and Arup won the international competition, in which many internationally large architectural offices participated. The same year the IBA - Arup team in Amsterdam, developed the tower's concept design. In later stages, IBA cooperated mainly with the local Chinese office of Arup and a Local Design Institute. The tower, although not fully completed yet, is since 1 October 2010 open to the public.
For a long time, the city-government of Guangzhou wavered to decide on the Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower's name. On 29 September 2010, it was officially announced that it was simply going to be called Canton Tower, after the city's traditional European name.
There had been a long discussion about the naming of the Canton Tower since its construction started in 2005. In September 2009, at the request of the tower's investor, Guangzhou Daily launched a contest calling for naming proposals. The contest attracted over 180,000 valid entries, among which "Haixin Tower" was awarded the first prize. The name alluded to the city's historical setting as the start of the Maritime Silk Road and the tower's geographical proximity to Haixinsha Island. However, this name was considered obscure to people unfamiliar with the history of the city. Local residents continued to the refer to the tower by various nicknames including "Slim Waist" , "Twisted Firewood" and "Yangdianfeng" .
The naming was reconsidered in 2010. After surveying a broad range of public opinions, "Canton Tower" was decided as the official name and announced at the end of September 2010. The new name, despite its lack of historical reference, was considered the most identifying and least ambiguous among the multitude of proposals.
The idea of the tower's design is simple. The form, volume and structure is generated by two ellipses, one at foundation level and the other at a horizontal plane at 450 metres. These two ellipses are rotated relative to another. The tightening caused by the rotation between the two ellipses forms a ‘waist’ and a densification of material half way the tower's height. This means that the lattice structure, which at the bottom of the tower is porous and spacious, becomes denser at waist level. The waist itself becomes tight, like a twisted rope; transparency is reduced and views to the outside are limited. Further up the tower the lattice opens again, accentuated here by the tapering of the structural column-tubes.
The Canton tower's twisted shape or hyperboloid structure corresponds to the Russian Empire patent No. 1896 dated March 12, 1899 received by Vladimir Shukhov, the Russian engineer and architect. In Ukraine in delta of Dnepr is located the Adziogol Lighthouse (1911, project of Vladimir Shukhov) similar to the Canton tower.
The tower was designed by Information Based Architecture and Arup. The Arup team led by structural engineer Prof. Dr. Joop Paul introduced near mass customisation to the joint design, in combination with parametric design methods, and applied a simple structural concept of three elements: columns, rings and braces, to this more complex geometry.
The waist of the tower contains a 180-metre long open-air skywalk where visitors can physically climb the tower. There are outdoor gardens set within the structure, and at the top, just above 450 metres, a large open-air observation deck.
The interior of the tower is subdivided into programmatic zones with various functions, including TV and radio transmission facilities, observatory decks, revolving restaurants, computer gaming, restaurants, exhibition spaces, conference rooms, shops, and 4D cinemas.
A deck at the base of the tower hides the tower's functional workings. All infrastructural connections – metro and bus stations – are situated underground. This level also includes exhibition spaces, a food court, a commercial space, a parking area for cars and coaches. There are two types of lifts, slow-speed panoramic and high-speed double-decker.
The zone from 80 to 170 metres consists of a 4D cinema, a play-hall area, restaurants, coffee shops and outdoor gardens with teahouses. An open-air staircase, the Skywalk, starts at the height of 170 metres and spirals almost 200 metres higher, all the way through the waist.
The top zone of the tower begins above the stairway, housing various technical functions as well as a two-storey rotating restaurant, a damper and the upper observation levels. From the upper observation levels it is possible to ascend even higher, via a further set of the stairs, to a terraced observation square rising above the tower's top ring.
At night, the tower glows and emits light, rather than being uplit. Every node in the lighting design is individually controllable to allow for animations and colour changes across the entire height of the tower. The concept lighting design was done by Rogier van der Heide. As all lighting is based on LED technology and all fixtures are located on the structure itself, the lighting scheme consumes only 15% of the allowed maximum for facade lighting.
An elliptical track is to be constructed around the periphery of the tower's roof, and 16 transparent "crystal" passenger cars, each with a diameter of 3.2 metres (10 ft) and able to carry four to six people, will take between 20 and 40 minutes to circumnavigate the track.
According to the New TV Tower Construction Company, which was responsible for construction of the project, the design was to be finalised in April 2009, construction begun by November 2009, installation finished by February 2010, and testing completed in August 2010. Opening to the public was scheduled for October 2010, ready for the 16th Asian Games, hosted by Guangzhou in November 2010.
The installation is described by the media as a Ferris wheel, however its passenger cars are not suspended from the rim of a wheel (in fact there is no wheel) and remain horizontal without being fully rotated, and the track, which follows the incline of the oblique roof, is closer to the horizontal than the vertical.
Canton Tower has architectural lighting that was designed by Rogier van der Heide. The architectural feature lighting is based on the principle that the tower should not be "lit up" but "radiate a glow" at night. 7,000 LED light fixtures light the rings of the tower's structure each from underneath, to form a continuous glow.