OPEN's Sun Tower Tops Out in Yantai

OPEN Architecture’s Sun Tower, designed as a landmark for the Chinese coastal city of Yantai, topped out last month. On the summer solstice day, the 50-meter-tall structure reached its peak height. The landmark is expected to be open to the public in 2024. Acting as a cultural placeholder, the building reframes the typical understanding of "design with nature."

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The design is centered around the relationship between man and nature, encouraging a kind of awareness that “must be brought to the front and center and be re-understood”. Moreover, OPEN believes that the aesthetic appreciation of a structure no longer holds the same impact due to the reality of the global climate crisis the world is entering, prioritizing the survival of our species. By re-establishing a tangible connection between people and natural phenomena that otherwise appear to cycle endlessly with no beginning or end, OPEN hopes that conscious design in architecture can help reawaken a much-needed reverence for nature and the idea that people and nature are an inseparable whole. In fact, Yantai is one of the locations where the sun-worshiping culture first developed but was long forgotten.

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Courtesy of OPEN Architecture

This is a building "sculpted" according to the sunlight, facing the majestic sea with a sliced-open structure, paying tribute to time and nature. -- OPEN Architecture

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The inner and outer white concrete shells are joined by horizontal slabs and ramps, supporting the fragile and complicated structure. The sun's annual trajectory determines the exact geometric reasoning underlying this seemingly formless building. Moreover, the different light tubes that are attached to the round perforations on the concrete shell's outside allow for the daytime introduction of natural light into the interior space. Circular windows at night cast pleasant, star-like light from the interior. “The structure stands quietly by the sea under the vast sky – a lighthouse for time”

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Courtesy of OPEN Architecture

The landmark building also offers a variety of cultural programs that are accessible to the public and open to the city. These include exhibitions, libraries, meditation areas, outdoor theaters, and more. The Sun Tower will bring much-needed cultural vitality and venues for social interactions to a rapidly expanding industrial area. This merger between industrial economies and cultural narratives is crucial for forging stronger and more resilient communities.

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Courtesy of OPEN Architecture

Finally, not relying on air conditioning during summer allows individuals to subtly sense the shifting seasons and the natural flow of energy. It also enables them to indulge in a profound spatial encounter, encompassing outdoor, semi-outdoor, and indoor spaces. To some extent, this revitalizes the human being’s sensitivity amidst the excessive thermal comfort of contemporary living.

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Courtesy of OPEN Architecture
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Courtesy of OPEN Architecture

In 2022, the architectural practice OPEN revealed the new design for the Shanfeng Academy, a new campus center in Suzhou city. Moreover, this education center will host K-12 international school while also becoming a cultural hub and landmark for the neighboring community. This year, the studio won the competition to design the Yichang Grand Theater in China. The performing arts center is situated on the Yangtze River, designed to be always open to the public. Finally, the studio's project, Chapel of Sound, opened to the public in 2020, serving as a semi-outdoor amphitheater with an outdoor stage overlooking the mountains of the Jinshanling Great Wall.

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Cite: Nour Fakharany. "OPEN's Sun Tower Tops Out in Yantai" 27 Jul 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Courtesy of OPEN Architecture


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