Aedas’ twisted tower design in China is evocative of the northern lights

The spectacular Dance of Light tower in Chongqing, China, featuring an arresting form, is one of the most twisted skyscrapers in the world.

by Pallavi MehraPublished on : Sep 19, 2022

Recently, a series of images showcasing a visually striking twisting tower went viral on Twitter. The building in the mysterious images is a one-of-a-kind skyscraper located at the Xingfu Plaza in the Jiangbei District of Chongqing, China. Completed this year, the Chongqing Gaoke Group’s Dance of Light tower was conceptualised by Hong Kong-based architecture and design firm, Aedas. This 39-storey, 180-metre-tall office building is located in the business district of Chongqing, which comprises a number of skyscrapers that are evocative of stars and celestial bodies. While designing this breathtaking twisting building, Aedas was inspired by the form of the northern lights, or the aurora borealis. The building features two double-curved glass façades that appear to be twisting. Its appearance varies from different angles and at different times of the day. The Dance of Light tower is one of the most twisted towers in the world. It showcases the fact that possibilities in architecture and design are limitless.

  • The tower’s appearance varies from different angles and different times of the day | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    The tower’s appearance varies from different angles and at different times of the day Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist
  • The building features two double-curved glass façades that appear to be twisting | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    The building features two double-curved glass façades that appear to be twisting Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

Aedas is an architecture and design practice which provides solutions with deep social and cultural understanding of the communities they operate in. Their aim is to push the boundaries of architecture and design while also responding to the practical needs of their clients. While conceptualising the Dance of Light tower, the design firm aimed to construct a landmark building. "Based on available published information, and with particular reference to average floor rotation, the Chongqing Gaoke Group’s Dance of Light holds the lead as the one of the most, if not the most twisted tower in the world. The façade system is parametrically designed to adapt to the changing parameters and dimensions of the geometry while fulfilling safety, waterproof and thermal performance requirements,” mentions Aedas global design principal, Ken Wai.

  • While designing the Dance of Light Tower, Aedas’ goal was to construct a landmark building | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    While designing the Dance of Light tower, Aedas’ goal was to construct a landmark building Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist
  • The Dance of Light Tower is informed by the undulating forms of the northern lights | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    The Dance of Light tower is informed by the undulating forms of the northern lights Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

Informed by the undulating forms of the northern lights, the twist of the stunning Dance of Light tower follows one of the forms of the curving aurora borealis. This distinctive tower’s spatial identity also pays homage to the technological advancements of the city of Chongqing, which is the biggest producer of automobiles in China. The building is a sort of reminder to the people of the city that they are at the forefront of industrial progress in the world. “The concept of the Dance of Light was proposed to celebrate the achievement to embrace technology by the city of Chongqing. It is derived from the mesmerising phenomenon of northern lights that light up the sky. They are natural, dynamic and elegant, all the important aspects we would like to achieve in our tower design,” adds Wai.

  • The twist of the building follows one of the forms of the curving aurora borealis | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    The twist of the building follows one of the forms of the curving aurora borealis Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist
  • Aedas collaborated with RFR to create a smooth twist rather than an angular shape | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    Aedas collaborated with RFR to create a smooth twist rather than an angular shape Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

Aedas collaborated with façade expert RFR to create a smooth twist rather than an angular shape, which is visible on other twisted skyscrapers around the world. To achieve this unique twist, the building's façade was crafted using double-curved, cold-form glass. The skyscraper architecture  uses twisted curved glass, leading each glass to be different in size and degree of twist. “The tower features a twisting angle of up to 8.8 degrees per floor, which is approximately 1.5 times more than any other skyscraper, making it one of the most twisted towers in the world. To pursue the concept of the Dance of Light, we set our goal to utilise light to define architecture. This was a huge challenge, and through the creation of two distinctive twists, a curvaceous form was generated that allows natural light to follow the contour of the building to give character and a special signature. By integrating two opposing twists at each end of the building, it will present an ever-changing façade to the urban context,” states Wai.

  • The skyscraper uses twisted curved glass, leading each glass to be different in size and degree of twist | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    The skyscraper uses twisted curved glass, leading each glass to be different in size and degree of twist Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist
  • The awe-inspiring Dance of Light Tower’s façade features curved, silver-coloured vertical mullions | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
    The awe-inspiring Dance of Light tower’s façade features curved, silver-coloured vertical mullions Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

The awe-inspiring tower’s façade features curved, silver-coloured vertical mullions, which reflect light off the building, making it look different from different angles and at different hours of the day. For instance, when the sun rises, the tower reflects light in the curved form of the northern lights, when night falls, the curved façade showcases reflections that allude to the dancing figure of a ballerina. “By using strong vertical lines in the shape of semi-circular external mullions, natural light will be able to follow the contour of the building. The mullions are painted in bright silver PVF2 finish and through contrasting light conditions, the reflection and refraction of the facade express the unique concept of the dance of light,” shares Wai.

This tower comprises 34 storeys of office spaces and five floors of meeting and event rooms | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
This tower comprises 34 storeys of office spaces and five floors of meeting and event rooms Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

This tower in Chongqing comprises 34 storeys of office spaces and five floors of meeting and event rooms. The twisted tower architecture not only adds an interesting exterior dimension, but also provides a unique interior configuration. Moreover, the design studio conceptualised it keeping in mind the surrounding buildings and landscape. Located adjacent to the skyscraper is a mall housing a plethora of eateries and retail shops, which has a roof with a twist similar to the shape of the skyscraper.

Aedas conceptualised the tower keeping in mind the surrounding buildings and landscape | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
Aedas conceptualised the tower keeping in mind the surrounding buildings and landscape Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

“The façade is not only an outlook expression, but also a way of protection that sculpts interior spaces. As for the master layout, we have put thorough consideration to the surrounding environment and the building volume. The tower is located on the left side of the mall, minimising the towering effect on the adjacent parts of the development, and establishing interactive connections in between. The tower sets back northwards, to connect the podium and the mall at the south. A variety of public spaces for civic leisure has thus been created. The underpass to its west leads easy access to the existing shopping centre, as a sensible approach to improve commercial value of underground space,” mentions Aedas global design principal. While the firm was able to design and execute one of the most twisted towers in the world, whether this concept can be successfully applied to other buildings remains to be seen.

This tower’s spatial identity pays homage to the technological advancements of Chongqing | Dance of Light Tower | Aedas | STIRworld
This tower’s spatial identity pays homage to the technological advancements of Chongqing Image: Courtesy of Arch-Exist

Project Details

Name: Dance of Light
Location: Chongqing, PRC
Design and Project Architect: Aedas
Completion Year: 2022
Gross Area: 61,368 sqm
Director: Ken Wai, Global Design Principal
Client: Chongqing Gaoke Group Co., Ltd.

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