Shanghai: The folly of dizzy heights

It is the kind of interplanetary competition that continues to preoccupy a large number of architects and governments throughout the world: who can boast the tallest building?

 Shanghai, in its liberated state, rises up and shakes itself free to reach the skies and prove that its meteoric expansion is indeed fact. And as proof, two realities collide: the first is horizontal, constructed at the end of the nineteenth century, until the “Pearl” ceased to be a “developing” city, and a vertical construction, pushed up faster than lightning in the early nineties. Bricks, wood and a vast array of market stalls stand shoulder to shoulder, from one street to the next, with the technical mastery of glass and stainless steel palaces, where the economy prospers. Shanghai’s aim is to challenge Tokyo, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

And so in the district of Pudong, an area increasingly influenced by luxury consumer goods, the Jin Mao Building has stood 420m high since 1998. The World Financial Center Tower acts as its older sister, at 494m, and the third, the most remarkable of the project, will have to wait until 2014. At 632m, the Shanghai Tower is the highest in Asia and could in fact become the second tallest in the world after Dubai (828m).  Shaped like a glass spiral, it will accommodate offices, cafes and nine gardens, with 360 vertiginous views and very probably an endless stream of curious individuals.

Journey of discovery | Published on: 11 December 2012
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