winning design of taiwan tower conceptual competition by designboom

floating observatories – winning design of taiwan tower conceptual competition


‘floating observatories’ by DSBA, mihai craciun, and upgrade.studio
all images courtesy DSBA

romanian practice dorin stefan birou arhitecturaupgrade.studio and mihai craciun from
the USA have been awarded first prize in the taiwan tower conceptual international competition.
using the ‘geographical’ visual of taiwan which resembles a leaf as a design launchpad,
‘floating observatories’ compares to a technological tree in its form and function.


view of tower from ground level

featuring eight leaf-like observatories, the tower’s tree-like silhouette aims to reflect
the local symbolism while serving as a model of green architecture. the dynamic
observation decks are set in a zeppelin-like elevator formation, holding between 50 to 80
people at a given time. built from light weight materials, they are self-sustained by
helium balloons and are hoisted vertically in a strong electro-magnetic field.

‘even though the floating observatories design was influenced by the sci-fi computer
gaming culture, they are feasible and play a major role for the pathway of the tower’s museum
by adding a new vertical dimension. seen from above, the city itself becomes the key exhibit
for the museum of taichung city development. seen from inside the museum, when they are nested,
the floating observatories become themselves exhibities, fascinating proof of the present
technological achievements.’
-bogdan chipara, DSBA architect


(left) rendered fly-by
(right) museum facade

other programs include an information center, a museum, office and conference space, restaurants,
and fixed observation decks. spreading these facilities along the height of the tower, all circulations
are vertically integrated, minimizing the structure’s footprint on land. taking advantage of the tower’s
form, the ‘chimney effect’ is used for the natural ventilation of various functional areas. electrical energy
is produced by a system of axial turbines located along the vertical central core. the skin of the tower
also features adjustable photovoltaic panels, adding to the structure’s energy supply.


museum approach


(left) view of the tower base from ground level
(right) observatory


tower concept sketches


spatial approach


site plan


museum floor plan
(1) ticket counter
(2) wardrobe
(3) information area
(4) taichung city model
(5) education area
(6) projection room
(7) office space
(8) shop


(left) standard office floor plan – 1200 m2
(center) standard office floor plan – 1420 m2
(right) sky lounge floor plan


(left) tower elevation
(right) tower section


detail of retractable bridge used to connect the floating observatories to the decks


cross section of museum with surface materiality


floating observatories – typologies and dimensions


(left) access to the office floors is through three escalators (blue); two other escalators connect the ‘wings’ of the museum (red)
(center) 3d detail of the axial wind turbines
(right) unfolded skin, showing the distribution of adjustable photovoltaic panels

project info:

architect leader: dorin stefan
architect, partner in project: mihai bodgan craciun
architect in charge: bogdan chipara
architect: claudiu barsan-pipu, oana nituica, anda stefan, adrian arendt, corina fodor

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