China's amazing "horizontal skyscraper" opens to visitors
Construction work is still ongoing on China's massive Raffles City Chongqing project but its most notable feature, the "horizontal skyscraper," has now opened to visitors. The stunning skybridge boasts a park and a glass-bottomed observation point.
The US$4.8 billion Raffles City Chongqing is designed by Moshe Safdie and consists of a cluster of eight skyscrapers. Four of the towers hold the horizontal skyscraper structure, which is officially named the Crystal, in place at a height of 250 m (820 ft). The Crystal itself measures 300 m (984 ft) in length and its weight comes in at a considerable 12,000 tons – much of the structure had to be painstakingly hoisted into position using cranes with engineering help from Arup.
Visitors to the Crystal's Exploration Deck, as the viewing area is named, begin their journey on the ground floor with an exhibition made in collaboration with National Geographic that details the history and development of Chongqing. An express elevator takes just over 50 seconds to reach the top and, once the doors open, visitors are greeted with another exhibition that imagines a future life on Mars.
A pocket park is next, before the tour culminates with the open-air Exploration Deck itself. This viewing point has a transparent glass floor and offers excellent views of the city and two nearby rivers converging. Elsewhere in the Crystal will be a members-only clubhouse with two swimming pools, restaurants and bars, but these are still being finished and are due to open in the coming months.
If you're in the area and would like to check out the view in person, tickets are priced at RMB180 (about US$25).