Tokyo Skytree Becomes World's Tallest Tower!
On Tuesday May 22nd 2012, the world’s tallest tower opened to the public in Japan’s Capital City, Tokyo. The Tokyo Skytree is Japan’s newest broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower, standing at an impressive 634 metres (2,080 feet) tall.
Not to be confused with the world’s tallest skyscraper – a record held by the 828 metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai – the Tokyo Skytree falls under a different building category other than skyscrapers, which usually contain luxury offices or apartments, where as a tower is predominantly used for communications purposes. The Skytree now hopes to be one of Tokyo’s top tourist attractions with an estimated 200,000 sightseers on the day of its grand opening, and 8,000 visitors scaling the unique structure.
Unfortunately the stunning views across Tokyo's iconic skyline were marred by dense cloud, rain and high winds which forced the closure of two lifts. However, the Skytree is now viewed as a testament to Tokyo’s earthquake-resistant building technology, known as ‘seismic proofing’, as the structure withstood damage during Japan’s devastating earthquake in March 2011.
The seismic proofing of the Skytree means that the tower contains a central shaft made from reinforced concrete, along with a number of ‘dampers’ which aim to absorb 50% if the energy from an earthquake. This type of earthquake-resistant design is extremely important in cities which can be affected by this force of nature. It is also becoming a modern trend in terms of architecture. For example, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport and California’s Municipal Services Building are just two recent examples of buildings designed to withstand server earthquakes.
The construction of the Tokyo Skytree began on July 14th 2008 and was completed on March 2nd 2012 – with the grand opening on May 22nd 2012. The total cost of the tower was 60bn Yen (£500m) along with an additional 5bn Yen put aside for post-construction costs. A number of people waited in line for over a week to ensure they got tickets for the opening day. This amount of public interest aims to set the benchmark for the future, as the tower hopes to generate even more tourism to the Sumida district of Tokyo.
The Skytree overtakes China’s 600 metre high Canton Tower in Guangzhou, which previous held the title of the world’s tallest tower and is also used for broadcasting purposes. Designed by architect, Tadao Ando, and constructed by Japan’s Tobu Railway Company, the Skytree is based on a fusion of futuristic design and traditional Japanese beauty, acting as a catalyst for the revitalisation of Sumida, Tokyo. The colour of the Skytree has been named as ‘Skytree White’, a new shade based on ‘aijiro’ – which has a light blue hue, helping the structure blend into it’s surroundings.
The main function of the Skytree is to broadcast television and radio signals across Tokyo. Some of Japan’s major broadcasting companies, such as NHK, will be using the tower from 2013. It is also reported that the Skytree is fully booked up until July 10th 2012 for public viewings which take place from two separate observation decks situated at 350 metres and 450 metres respectively.
The tower also houses a restaurant, two cafes and retail facilities located on the observation decks, not to mention a glass floor plate which allows visitors to look straight down to ground level.The Skytree also contains an emergency exit staircase with 2,523 steps to descend. The base of the tower includes a 400 metre concourse connecting two nearby train stations, which makes for convenient tourist and visitor access.
The Sumida area of Tokyo is a vibrant, cultural location and business district for a number of corporate headquarters. The Skytree itself is surrounded by a vast range of commercial offices and retail space in low-rise buildings, which further highlight the new tower’s iconic and impressive scale as the world’s tallest tower!