Agora Tower Taipei, Taiwan

The 20 storey eco-friendly tower in the heart of Taipei city was designed by a Belgium architect named ‘Vincent Callebaut’. He is known for his green and sustainable designs; he managed to land the Agora Tower project for himself when he took part in a competition and won back in November 2010. The project began in March 2013 and was completed by September 2017. The residential tower is a resemblance of the double helix of a DNA strand which the architect was inspired by. It consists of 48 luxury condos with car park, swimming and other fitness facilities in the basement with each occupant having their own hanging garden. The basement is well lit and ventilated with its unique design of glass flooring. The location of the tower is known as one of the biggest residential sites of the Taipei city.

PHOTO CREDIT: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

As the centre core stays fixed the two helicoidal towers stands adjacent to the middle structure creating a 90 degree twisting effect. The shape of the tower varies depending on the direction a person views it from as a consequence to its moving geometric shape. Each storey rotates 4.5 degrees as the building as the building ascends. To make the most out of the eco-designed feature; the tower has a photovoltaic roof of 1000 sq. m (10,763 sq. ft.) which converts the light into electricity, the roof also has another feature where the water is collected when it rains and can be used for the building. The main idea behind the design was to inspire the city to become greener and clean by using trees and plants to fill the entire building making it into a vertical farm; to be specific the building has 23,000 trees and shrubs. As part of the concept it is said that there are areas within the building that has plants and trees growing inside protected by glass flooring. The design is also inspired by the idea of futuristic architecture; it is also approved by the ‘Green Building Label’ in China.

 

 

They believe that doing so is going to absorb around 130 tons of carbon dioxide each year which will help the environment tremendously; even though one building will not be enough to make a huge difference in cutting down the pollution however, it is somewhere we can at least make a start. The tower consists of two staircases, four elevators and one car elevator. While each balcony is filled with greenery pleasing to the eyes, this also enables residents to grow their own vegetables, fruits and flowers according to their interest. This project encourages ‘built eco-system’ spreading positive and healthier lifestyle, one of the perks added to the property besides all the greenery is the stunning view of the city from their terraces. But there are few architects who think that this idea will not last long because there are far too many trees to maintain and overtime the soil will turn bad without proper care.

PHOTO CREDIT: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

One of the design features of the building is the use ‘Vierendeel truss system’ to suit the compatibility of the unique structure/shape of the tower which also resulted in better stability of the foundation. This method of structure is highly used for buildings where an engineer would want to avoid certain constrcution elements which will potentially influence the aesthetics or functionality. By incorporating Vierendeel truss system along with Suspended structure system, it has managed to transfer all its weight through the girder to the central core of the foundation moving down the tower. Thinking about both the appearance and the durability of a foundation is the key to any successful building work and neither should be missed.

PHOTO CREDIT: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

The Agora Tower was developed and constructed by the BES construction corporation which is owned by ‘Core pacific group’ who also owns the Agora tower and few other big building corporations. Along with Vincent Callebaut, another architecture groups and SARL Paris were involved called ‘LKP Design’ while the interiors were designed by Wilson & Associates RE; structural design was done by King Le Chang & associates. Taiwan based company ‘Kumagai’ was the construction contractor for the building while ‘Sine & Associates’ also a Taiwan based company was in charge of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering.

PHOTO CREDIT: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

The central core of the tower has the double skin façade system to maintain the temperature of the building and keep its occupants cooler in hot weather conditions. It acts as natural ventilation by stopping heat transferring into the building; it also mutes sound frequencies acting as sound insulation. It offers a panoramic view with tremendous amount of light coming in the building without the thread of overheating. The key objectives of this project is: to reduce the effects of global warming, to protect the nature, to protect the environment from exposure to more harm, to make the public practice the management of waste and value the natural resources.

PHOTO CREDIT: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

The designer explains the challenges he faced during the design process and it was the process of coming up with a sustainable, green, flexible and anti-seismic tower which was feasible. Not only that but he had to find a team who had the same vision as he did so that the whole process could run smoother. One of the main objectives was to create two units on a single storey where even unit will be 550 square metres with very minimal walls and columns. To do so means that the designer had to go through multiple planning stages and find a reliable engineer who would be flexible to the idea. Most importantly, the construction of Agora Tower has bought the concept of ‘ecological architecture’ to attention not only in Taiwan but globally.

 

 

References:

  1. Callebaut, V. (2017) Agora Tower Taipei City Taiwan. Available at: https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/13-breathtaking-skyscrapers-that-amazed-the-world-672760/ (Accessed/downloaded: 08/08/19).
  2. Callebaut, V. (2017) Tao Zhu Yin Yuan, first prize winner- A carbon-absorbing green at: http://vincent.callebaut.org/object/190320_taozhuyinyuansite/taozhuyinyuansite/projects (Accessed/downloaded: 08/08/19).
  3. Callebaut, V. (2017)  vincent callebaut architectures: agora tower, taipei, taiwan. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/vincent-callebaut-architectures-agora-tower-taipei-taiwan/ (Accessed/downloaded: 08/08/19).
  4. Malone, D. (2016) Title of web page. Agora Garden, a twisting, plant-filled tower in Taipei, will absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide annually once completed. Available at: https://www.bdcnetwork.com/agora-garden-twisting-plant-filled-tower-taipei-will-absorb-130-tons-carbon-dioxide-annually-once (Accessed: 08/08/19).
  5. Lai, Juvina. (2017/2019)Smog-eating tower featuring luxury apartments in Taipei opening soon. Available at: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3225785 (Accessed: 08/08/19).
  6. Garfield, L. (2017/2019) The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower by Vincent Callebaut Architectures in Taipei, Taiwan.. Available at: https://www.insider.com/taiwan-smog-agora-garden-twisting-tower-vincent-callebaut-photos-2017-8 (Accessed: 08/08/19).
  7. Frearson, Amy. (2013/2013) Agora Garden by Vincent Callebaut. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2013/04/05/agora-garden-by-vincent-callebaut/ (Accessed: 08/08/19).
  8. Lynch, Patrick. (2016/2016) Vincent Callebaut Architectures’ Double Helix Eco-Tower Takes Shape in Taiwan. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/800209/vincent-callebaut-architectures-double-helix-eco-tower-takes-shape-in-taiwan (Accessed: 08/08/19).

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