The realization and contemplation of the need to build taller and make our cities compact is something that has been persistent through time. Not only does it bring diversity to a city’s skyline but it also induces a city’s identity at a much larger scale and context. The leaps in the past few decades have been nothing less than extraordinary in this context. The introduction of high-rise buildings in a city has been sought not only as a programmatic solution but also as a cultural symbol in a city’s fabric. This article hence explores the dynamism of high-rise architecture with respect to the ten tallest buildings in Asia.

1. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), Chicago with Adrian Smith FAIA, RIBA (Consulting Design Partner)
Year of Completion: 2010
Height: 828 m (2716 ft), 163 floors

Since its completion in 2010, Burj Khalifa remains the world’s tallest building to date. It surpassed Taiwan’s Taipei 101, which had been the tallest building in the world since 2004, by 320m. Its design and architecture are conceptually based on the abstraction of the Hymenocallis flower and have three wings arranged around its central core with decreasing cross-section as it spirals upwards. The structure is made out of reinforced concrete with aluminium and glass cladding which is another world record for establishing the former facade at the height of 512 meters. The skyscraper is a mixed-use building with residences, offices, the first Armani Hotel, and an observation deck on the 124th floor. It inculcates Y-shaped planning to maximize the views of the Arabian Gulf.

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Burj Khalifa, SOM_©Nick_Merrick_for_Hedrich_Blessing
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Burj Khalifa, SOM_©Nick_Merrick_for_Hedrich_Blessing
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Burj Khalifa, SOM_©Nick_Merrick_for_Hedrich_Blessing
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Burj Khalifa, SOM_©Nick_Merrick_for_Hedrich_Blessing

2. Merdeka 118, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Architect: Fender Katsalidis Architects RSP Architects, Arup (Civil & Structural Design Partner)
Year of Completion: late 2022
Height: 679 m (2228 ft), 118 floors

Envisaged as a new focal point for the city of Kuala Lumpur, Merdeka 118, formerly known as KL 118, marks the Merdeka precinct in downtown Kuala Lumpur with its presence overlooking the Merdeka Stadium, where the independence of Malaysia was first declared by its Prime Minister in 1957. This landmark, based on one of the most culturally significant sites in all of Malaysia, adds to the city’s identity as a whole and is well integrated with all the rail networks in the city. Inspired by Malaysian art and craft, the structure features a multi-faceted diamond-shaped facade composed of triangular glass panes.

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Merdeka 118_©Fender Katsalidis
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Merdeka 118_©Fender Katsalidis

3. Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China

Architect: Gensler
Year of Completion: 2015
Height: 632 m (2074 ft), 128 floors

With the idea of looking at public spaces in the city stacked vertically in place of a horizontal expanse, Shanghai Tower uniquely personifies a new experience of living and working in super tall towers. Its form is strategically worked upon to withstand the typhoon wind forces as common in Shanghai. Its complex form is parametrically resolved in its design, constructability, and maintenance with lasers to take precise measurements on-site. The Chinese government has described this ambitious tower as a symbol of a nation whose future is filled with limitless opportunities.

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Shanghai Tower_©Gensler and Zhonghai Shen
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Shanghai Tower_©Gensler and Zhonghai Shen

4. Makkah Clock Royal Tower, Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Architect: SL Rach and Dar al-Handasah Shair & Partners
Year of Completion: 2012
Height: 601 m (1972 ft), 120 floors

As a part of King Abdulaziz Endowment Project, the Makkah Clock Royal Tower came to the realization as the tallest clock tower in the world during the building of seven hotel towers next to the Great Mosque. The result is high strength steel and concrete frame structure cladded with custom-made glass tiles to withstand the extremities in temperature. It houses hotels, shopping centers, residential apartments and the biggest prayer room in the world in the crescent at the top of the spire made entirely out of carbon fiber. 

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Crescent Prayer hall_©SL Rasch
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_Night view of the Tower_©SL Rasch
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Makkah Royal Clock Tower_©SL Rasch

5. Ping An International Finance Center, Shenzhen, China

Architect: KPF, Arup (Sustainability), AECOM (Landscape)
Year of Completion: 2017
Height: 599 m (1965 ft), 115 floors

In the central business district of Shenzhen, the headquarters of Ping An Insurance is the second tallest building in China. Above a retail and conference podium rest more than 100 floors of office space with connectivity to the nearby commercial and residential properties and the metro station adding to its prominence as a landmark.

The central atrium being another feature acts as a public vestibule and becomes a well-sun-lit welcoming space for visitors in the center.

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Ping An International Finance Center_©Tim Griffith
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Ping An International Finance Center_©Tim Griffith
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Ping An International Finance Center_©Tim Griffith

6. Lotte World Tower, Seoul, South Korea

Architect: KPF
Year of Completion: 2017
Height: 554 m (2716 ft), 123 floors

Drawing inspiration and resemblance from traditional Korean art forms, the Lotte World Tower embodies itself in a sleek form and in pure elegance as it leaves its mark on the skyline of the capital city. A mixed-use building, it houses retail and office spaces, a hotel, and an observation deck at the peak in a tapering form with a white lacquered mullion system that extends to its apex. The structural system consists of a concrete core surrounded by 8 concrete columns on a concrete mat tied back to the concrete core by steel trusses.

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Lotte World Tower_©KPF
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Lotte World Tower_©KPF

7. CTF Finance Center, Guangzhou, China

Architect: KPF
Year of Completion: 2016
Height: 530 m (1738 ft), 111 floors

The Chow Tai Fook Finance Center is the city’s tallest building incorporating a mixed-use program ascending from office and retail spaces to residences and then to a sky lobby/terrace for its tenants. It also comprises an underground retail concourse with a nearby park. The facade system incorporates terracotta mullions reaching out to the country’s traditional use of the material in various art forms. It also offers multiple advantages to the tower’s materiality in terms of shading, ventilation, and heat recovery.

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CTF Guangzhou_©KPF
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CTF Guangzhou_©KPF
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CTF Guangzhou_©KPF

8. Tianjin CTF Finance Center, Tianjin

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), Chicago
Year of Completion: 2019
Height: 530 m (1738 ft), 97 floors

Located in a high seismic zone, The Tianjin CTF Finance Center is a culmination of efficient structure and architectural expression. With a tapering shape where 8 curves meet at the crown in a wave-like form,the building stands out with its facade made out of thousands of glass panels which are parametrically optimized in their design and geometry. The programmatic approach is based on the building’s structural efficiency maximizing lease spaces for the offices and better views from the hotel and the apartments.

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Tianjin CTF Finance Center _©Seth Powers
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Tianjin CTF Finance Center _©Seth Powers
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Tianjin CTF Finance Center _©Seth Powers

9. CITIC Tower, Beijing

Architect: KPF
Year of Completion: 2018
Height: 528 m (1732 ft), 108 floors

Beijing’s tallest building to date takes its inspiration from the zun, a ritual vessel from the bronze age in China. It contains the CITIC Headquarters with office spaces and a business center in the form of a square plan emerging out of the ground with soft corners in a high seismic zone. The expression of the facade in the form of curves is carried inside the interiors to create a dramatic feel and experience. The zun is also symbolized and abstracted in a variety of scales from the overall massing to the interior detailing.

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CITIC Tower Beijing _©KPF
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CITIC Tower Beijing _©KPF

10. Taipei 101, Taiwan

Architect: CY Lee and Partners
Year of Completion: 2004
Height: 509 m (2716 ft), 101 floors

Formerly known as Taipei financial center is a well-known office building and the skyscraper and was the world’s tallest building when it first opened officially in 2004 surpassing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, with 101 floors. It has an indoor and outdoor observatory housed on its topmost floors with another indoor observatory at the topmost i.e. 101th which is not open to the public. Following a modular system of 8, it also expresses its symbolism of the elongated Chinese Pagoda.

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Taipei 101 _©designingbuildings.co.uk
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Taipei 101 _©CY Lee & Partners

References:

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  11. Kpf.com. 2022. CTF Finance Centre by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). [online] Available at: <https://www.kpf.com/projects/ctf-finance-centre> [Accessed 17 July 2022].
  12. Kpf.com. 2022. Lotte World Tower by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). [online] Available at: <https://www.kpf.com/projects/lotte-world-tower> [Accessed 17 July 2022].
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  15. Kpf.com. 2022. Ping An Finance Centre by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). [online] Available at: <https://www.kpf.com/projects/ping-an-finance-centre> [Accessed 17 July 2022].
  16. Sl-rasch.com. 2022. The Makkah Royal Clock Tower – SL Rasch. [online] Available at: <https://www.sl-rasch.com/en/projects/the-makkah-royal-clock-tower/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].
  17. SOM. 2022. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. [online] Available at: <https://www.som.com/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].
Author

Prachita Rijhwani is an architecture graduate and a passionate musician. A keen observer and a curious learner, you will always find her exploring a new hobby. When it comes to design, she believes it to be the best medium to express innovation and logic together.

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