It's fitting that the country that boasts the famous terracotta army also be the one that's home to the world's tallest terracotta-clad tower. Rising to a total height of 530 m (1,739 ft) on a site overlooking the Pearl River, the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates-designed Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre is also China's second-tallest building, after the Shanghai Tower, and the fifth tallest worldwide.
The Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre is actually one of a pair of towers referred to as the Guangzhou Twin Towers. Its counterpart was designed by Wilkinson Eyre and was completed in 2010, rising to 440 m (1,443 ft). Its fifth-place ranking comes from the influential CTBUH and consists of completed buildings only.
The tower's stepped form reflects its mixed interior layout and allows for impressive sky terraces. A total floorspace of 508,000 sq m (5.4 million sq ft) is split between office space, residential space and a hotel. An eight-story podium is connected to the tower and includes a hotel ballroom and function space, in addition to retail, restaurants, a cinema, and more roof terraces.
KPF says that glazed terracotta was chosen both for its historical use, and because it's considered more environmentally-friendly than aluminum, glass, or steel. This is partly because it can be more easily produced at multiple local sites rather than shipped-in from afar.
Furthermore, the firm says that terracotta is more resistant to corrosion and provides a better thermal performance than an all-glass curtain wall would. It also can't hurt that it lends the building a subtly different appearance than a typical glass and steel tower.
There will be up to 30,000 people within the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre in a single day. To help them get around, 95 Hitachi-designed elevators, which are among the world's fastest, move around at speeds of 72 km/h (44.7 mph).
The building also features multiple local public transportation links and energy-efficient chillers with heat recovery systems.
The Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre was developed by New World Development and involved Arup, Leigh & Orange Ltd, and Guangzhou Design Institute. It's part of China's remarkable building boom, which has seen the country produce a glut of high-profile buildings recently, including supertall skyscrapers, magnificent opera houses, several of the world's largest and longest projects, and its fair-share of wacky projects, too.
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