Sky Lantern Tower proposes a new model of observation tower. It lifts passengers 300 meters with a minimum use of material and energy, while extending the Taiwanese tradition of releasing Sky Lanterns to an urban scale.
Instead of a typical material and energy intensive tower structure to support only an elevator and observation deck, Sky Lantern Tower replaces the elevator and deck with four helium passenger balloons, each capable of carrying 20-30 passengers. These balloons reference the Sky Lanterns, giving the traditional symbol a pragmatic function. Eliminating elevator and deck frees the tower’s structure. It now only needs to support itself and act as a guide for the balloons between the ground and the views of the Taiwan Strait. Multiple high altitude wind turbines at the apex of the structure provide clean energy to Taichung.
The structure takes its slender form from the structural logic of bamboo. Bamboo, like the Tower, only needs to support itself and resist wind. Its circular section minimizes wind resistance. The members taper from 4 meters in diameter at the base to ½ meter at its apex, 300 meters above ground. These members are constructed of rolled stainless steel plate, like flagpole construction. The members meet at the top and mid-span to brace itself and further reduce structure.
Program: observation tower, office, exhibition
Client: Taichung City Government
Location: Taichung Gateway Park, Taichung, Taiwan
Status: 2010 Taiwan Tower International Design Competition
Design Architect: Forrest Fulton