Architecture

Ultra-thin "sky scratcher" makes other skinny skyscrapers look chunky

Ultra-thin "sky scratcher" mak...
The Pencil Tower Hotel would reach a height of 100 m (328 ft) in downtown Sydney
The Pencil Tower Hotel would reach a height of 100 m (328 ft) in downtown Sydney
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The Pencil Tower Hotel would serve as a boutique hotel and host six rooms per floor
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The Pencil Tower Hotel would serve as a boutique hotel and host six rooms per floor
The Pencil Tower Hotel would reach a height of 100 m (328 ft) in downtown Sydney
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The Pencil Tower Hotel would reach a height of 100 m (328 ft) in downtown Sydney
Pencil Tower Hotel was a recent winner of the City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition and is being developed by Tricon Management Group
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Pencil Tower Hotel was a recent winner of the City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition and is being developed by Tricon Management Group
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Thin is in when it comes to skyscraper design, with skinny luxury towers increasingly seen as viable by developers due to limited building space in crowded cities. However, the Pencil Tower Hotel makes other thin towers look positively chunky as it will measure just 6.4 m (20 ft) in width.

Designed by Durbach Block Jaggers, Pencil Tower Hotel (aka 410 Pitt Street) is being developed by Tricon Management Group. Durbach Block Jaggers refers to it as a "sky scratcher," saying it's too thin to qualify as a skyscraper (it's also a lot deeper than it is wide, though we've no official figures on its depth).

Assuming it goes ahead, it will take up an area of 345 sq m (roughly 3,700 sq ft), and reach a height of 100 m (328 ft) in downtown Sydney. The thinness of towers is decided by measuring both width and height – so New York City's 111 West 57th Street would remain the world's thinnest tower, even though it has a width of 18 m (59 ft), because it reaches a far greater height of 435 m (1,427 ft).

The tower will be situated atop a podium building and serve as a boutique hotel. Its interior will host six rooms per floor, plus additional service areas in the basement and podium, and a cleaning/store room on every third hotel floor. Elsewhere will be a cafe, lounge, and a walled courtyard garden, plus a rooftop pool, sundeck, and spa will cantilever outward near the top of the building.

The Pencil Tower Hotel would serve as a boutique hotel and host six rooms per floor
The Pencil Tower Hotel would serve as a boutique hotel and host six rooms per floor

The project was a recent winner of the City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition and has been submitted for planning permission, though there's no word yet on when construction is expected to go ahead. It will be the second recent high-profile skinny skyscraper in Australia, alongside Melbourne's Collins House, which has a width of just 11.5 m (37.5 ft).

The construction of very thin towers poses significant practical issues – as highlighted by current reports from the New York Times that another svelte skyscraper, 432 Park Avenue, is experiencing "catastrophic" flooding and other problems. Indeed, building something so thin and tall in a cramped site is already acknowledged by Durbach Block Jaggers as a challenge, and Richard Green Consulting/TTW will handle structural engineering duties.

"Key challenges are site access given the 6.4 m street frontage and the slenderness of the structure," says the firm. "The first six levels of the podium can utilize conventional construction methods - flat concrete slabs supported on walls and columns. Crane access above level six becomes a challenge given the narrow site. Construction methods utilizing permanent steel slab forms and permanent formwork for walls that can be handled and assembled without a crane. The floors and walls will then be reinforced."

Source: Durbach Block Jaggers

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6 comments
FB36
"another svelte skyscraper, 432 Park Avenue, is experiencing "catastrophic" flooding and other problems"

If even normal wind causing serious problems for this kind of super-thin skyscrapers, what will happen if a hurricane visits NY again in the future???
paul314
I predict structural issues for the buildings on either side as the pencil sways in the wind. Any setback from the property lines would reduce floor area even more.

Also wonder where they're going to put the elevators and fire stairs, especially in a building that's roughly 200' deep. Maybe in addition to cleaning equipment every 3d floor will be devoted to hallways.
Rustgecko
The article lacks an essential piece of information - that the tower is 34 metres deep. What would have been interesting to know is the size and architecture of the lifts, which will be interesting in such a narrow building.
BlueOak
The developers might want to carefully read the above linked NYT article about 432 Park Ave. Fascinating failure.

Although, hard to sympathize with folks who can afford the minimum annual buy at the building’s private restaurant... $15,000. Every year. And boohoo, they no longer get “free” breakfast.
Marco McClean
I'd like someone to build an apartment building in the shape of a shiny white or stainless-steel silver 1950s science-fiction rocketship. The little nuclear electricity generators and atmospheric water condensers and so on would be in the three standing fins. Either no windows at all and camera-fed video screen windows inside everywhere or real oval-shaped windows filled with colored liquid and fish (live fish or robot fish). A flexible wiggly radio antenna with a copper ball on the nose, and the big, high-pointed round top room would be the AM radio station, fitted inside around the wall with consoles with giant teacup-size bakelite knobs and heavy switches that really work and are not just for show. No digital anything; all vacuum tubes the size of footballs. And the elevators wouldn't take up useful room but should spiral up the outside like wisps of nebula smoke. Elevator operators in crisp uniforms.

Also at the top, maybe in the copper ball, amplified tannoys for announcing things to surrounding envious prosaic buildings, and for air raid alerts and then all-clear announcements, and maybe also cheerful faint bird sounds just at the edge of your ability to hear.
Nelson Hyde Chick
These things are an environmental disaster with all that needs to be done to keep them up, and that is why they are an abomination that should be outlawed. The same materials used to build one of these to house hundreds could be used to build building to house thousands.