Canton Tower

Not to be confused with Guangzhou TV Tower.
Canton Tower

The Canton Tower by night in November 2013
Location within China
Former names Guangzhou TV Astronomical and Sightseeing Tower
Record height
Tallest in the world from August 2009 to 2010[I]
Preceded by CN Tower
Surpassed by Burj Khalifa
General information
Status Complete
Type Mixed use:
Restaurant, Observation, Telecommunications
Address Yuejiang Road West/Yiyuan Road, Haizhu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Town or city Guangzhou
Country China
Coordinates 23°6′32″N 113°19′8″E / 23.10889°N 113.31889°E / 23.10889; 113.31889Coordinates: 23°6′32″N 113°19′8″E / 23.10889°N 113.31889°E / 23.10889; 113.31889
Groundbreaking c. 2005
Construction started November 2005
Topped-out August 2009
Completed 2010
Opening 30 September 2010
Cost CNY ¥ 2,803,635,000.00
(US$ 450,000,000.00)[1]
Tip 595.7 m (1,954 ft)
Roof 462.1 m (1,516 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 37
2 basement floors
Floor area 114,054 m2 (1,227,700 sq ft)
Lifts/elevators 9
Design and construction
Architect IBA:
Mark Hemel & Barbara Kuit
Structural engineer Arup
Canton Tower
Simplified Chinese 广州塔
Traditional Chinese 廣州塔
Cantonese Jyutping Gwong2 zau1 taap3
Hanyu Pinyin Guǎngzhōu tǎ

Canton Tower (Chinese: 广州塔),[12] formerly known as Guangzhou TV Astronomical and Sightseeing Tower (Chinese: 广州电视台天文及观光塔) and also known as Guangzhou Tower (Chinese: 广州塔),[3][4][10][11] is a 595.7-metre (1,954 ft) tall multi-purpose observation tower in the Haizhu District of Guangzhou (historically known as Canton or Kwangchow), Guangdong, China.[13][14] The tower was topped out in 2009 and it became operational on 29 September 2010 for the 2010 Asian Games.[15] The tower briefly held the title of tallest tower in the world, replacing the CN Tower, before being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree.[16] It was the tallest structure in China prior to the topping out of Shanghai Tower on 3 August 2013. It is now the third tallest tower and the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world. Canton Tower.JPG

Naming and etymology

There had been a long discussion about the naming of the Canton Tower since the commencement of its construction in 2005 after the groundbreaking ceremony. In September 2009, at the request of the tower's investor, Guangzhou Daily launched a contest for naming proposals. The contest attracted over 180,000 valid entries, among which "Haixin Tower" (Chinese: 海心塔; literally: "Tower in the Sea") was awarded the first prize. The name alluded to the city's historical setting as the start of the Maritime Silk Road and the tower's geographical proximity to Haixinsha Island. However, this name was considered obscure to people unfamiliar with the history of the city.[17] Local residents continued to refer to the tower by various nicknames including "Slim Waist" (Chinese: 小蛮腰), "Twisted Firewood" (Chinese: 扭纹柴; a metaphor for "stubborn" in Cantonese) and "Yangdianfeng" (Chinese: 羊巅峰; literally: "Peak of the Ram City"; homophonic to "epilepsy" in colloquial Chinese).[8][9][18][19]

The naming was reconsidered in 2010. After surveying a broad range of public opinions, "Canton Tower" was decided as the official name and announced at the end of September 2010. The new English name, alluded to the city's prosperous past, was considered the most identifying and least ambiguous among the multitude of proposals.[8][9][19][20]


Guangzhou Tower was constructed by Guangzhou New Television Tower Group who were responsible for the construction. The Canton Tower is designed by the Dutch architects Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit of Information Based Architecture, together with Arup, the international design, engineering and business consulting firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. In 2004, Information Based Architecture and Arup won the international competition, in which many internationally large architectural offices participated. The same year the IBA – Arup team in Amsterdam, developed the tower's concept design. In later stages, IBA cooperated mainly with the local Chinese office of Arup and a Local Design Institute. Subsequently, in 2005, the groundbreaking of the Canton Tower took place.[9][19]

The tower, although not fully completed, opened to the public on 1 October 2010 in time for the 16th Asian Games, hosted by Guangzhou in November 2010.[21][22] The rooftop observatory finally received its official opening in December 2011.[8][9][10]

Structure and construction

The Canton tower's twisted shape or hyperboloid structure corresponds to the Russian Empire patent No. 1896, dated 12 March 1899 received by Vladimir Shukhov, the Russian engineer and architect.[23] The structure is similar to the Adziogol Lighthouse (designed by Vladimir Shukhov in 1910) in Ukraine's Dnepr delta.[8][9][10][24]

Structural concept

The tower under construction in November 2007.

The tower was designed by Information Based Architecture and Arup. The Arup team led by structural engineer Prof. Dr. Joop Paul introduced near mass customisation to the joint design, in combination with parametric design methods, and applied a simple structural concept of three elements: columns, rings and braces, to this more complex geometry.[6][7][8][9]

The waist of the tower contains a 180 m (590 ft) open-air skywalk where visitors can physically climb the tower. There are outdoor gardens set within the structure, and at the top, just above 450 m (1,480 ft), a large open-air observation deck.[6][8][9]

The interior of the tower is subdivided into programmatic zones with various functions, including TV and radio transmission facilities, observatory decks, revolving restaurants, computer gaming, restaurants, exhibition spaces, conference rooms, shops, and 4D cinemas.[6][8][9]

A deck at the base of the tower hides the tower's functional workings. All infrastructural connections – metro and bus stations – are situated underground. This level also includes exhibition spaces, a food court, a commercial space, a parking area for cars and coaches. There are two types of lifts, slow-speed panoramic and high-speed double-decker.[8][9]

The zone from 80 to 170 m (260 to 560 ft) consists of a 4D cinema, a play-hall area, restaurants, coffee shops and outdoor gardens with teahouses. The highest and longest open-air staircase in the world, the Skywalk, starts at the height of 170 m (558 ft) and spirals almost 170 m (558 ft) higher, all the way through the waist. Parts of the skywalk's floors are laid with transparent glass.[8][9][25]

The top zone of the tower begins above the stairway, housing various technical functions as well as a two-storey rotating restaurant, a tuned mass damper and the upper observation levels. From the upper observation levels it is possible to ascend even higher, via a further set of the stairs, to a terraced observation square rising above the tower's top ring.[8][9][10]

The twist

The form, volume and structure of the towers is generated by two ellipses, one at foundation level and the other at a horizontal plane at 450 m (1,480 ft). These two ellipses are rotated relative to another. The tightening caused by the rotation between the two ellipses forms a "waist" and a densification of material halfway up the tower. This means that the lattice structure, which at the bottom of the tower is porous and spacious, becomes denser at waist level. The waist itself becomes tight, like a twisted rope; transparency is reduced and views to the outside are limited. Further up the tower the lattice opens again, accentuated here by the tapering of the structural column-tubes.[8][9][10]

Rooftop observatory

The indoor public observatory is 449 m above the ground, which takes the form of a terraced elliptical space, roughly half the size of a standard football field. Opened in December 2011, the rooftop at 488 m was the highest and largest outdoor observation deck in the world, taking over the title from the observation deck of Burj Khalifa at 452m.[26] This remained the case until 14 October 2014, when the record of highest outdoor observatory was retaken by Burj Khalifa when it opened its new observatory called At The Top - Sky, at a height of 555m.[27]

Sixteen transparent "crystal" passenger cars, each with a diameter of 3.2 m (10 ft) and able to carry four to six people, travel on a track round the edge of the tower's roof, taking between 20 and 40 minutes to circumnavigate the rooftop.[21] The installation is described by the media as a Ferris wheel; however, its passenger cars are not suspended from the rim of a wheel and remain horizontal without being fully rotated, and the track, which follows the incline of the roof, is closer to the horizontal than the vertical.[28][29] Because this Ferris wheel is operating at high altitude, it was designed to be able to resist 8-magnitude earthquakes and Beaufort Scale 12 typhoons.[30]

Architectural lighting design

At night, the tower glows and emits light, rather than being uplit. Every node in the lighting design is individually controllable to allow for animations and colour changes across the entire height of the tower. As all lighting is based on LED technology and all fixtures are located on the structure itself, the lighting scheme consumes only 15% of the allowed maximum for façade lighting.[6][19]

The Canton Tower has an architectural lighting that was designed by Arup Lighting. The architectural feature lighting is based on the principle that the tower should not be "lit up" but "radiate a glow" at night. Seven thousand LED light fixtures light the rings of the tower's structure each from underneath, to form a continuous glow.[6][8][9][10][19]


The Canton Tower's main body stands at 450 m (1,476 ft). Combined with the tower's 150-metre-long (492 ft) antenna, the Canton Tower possesses a total height of 600 m (1,969 ft), making it the second tallest tower in the world, second tallest in Asia, and the tallest in the People's Republic of China. The tower has 37 floors, and 2 basement floors.[1][4]

In terms of weight, the Canton Tower weighs a total of 100,000 t (100,000,000 kg), including the tower's antenna which weighs 1,550 t (1,550,000 kg) and the main body, which includes all the features of the tower, which weighs a total of 98,450 t (98,450,000 kg).[1]

The Canton Tower occupies a total floor area of 175,458 m2 (1,888,610 sq ft). In addition, the tower's net usable area measures 114,054 m2 (1,227,670 sq ft).[1]

Guangzhou tower original design high total 612.2 meters (including lightning rod 1.2 meters). However, in order to ensure the safety of flight over the city, quickly completed by landing up to 600 meters below, at a cost of more than 1000 million yuan, at the time caused widespread controversy. Audit report shows that in July 2010 the antenna mast down superb 14.2 meters, the actual increase in construction spending. But this cost is ultimately the government finance bill".[11]

According to media reports, the "high" project was completed in the entire television tower has been basically completed. Temporary mast for antenna mast installation has been removed, and the associated engineering equipment has also been transported from the construction site, in order to "drop high" single is the mechanical equipment shipped back, it has cost a few million dollars.[11]

So, how high is the height of the Canton Tower? According to the Guangzhou Urban Planning Bureau and the Guangzhou Construction Engineering Supervision Co., Ltd., Guangzhou tower adjusted total building height 595.71 meters, the main tower high 44.88 meters, antenna mast high 146.91 meters, the viewing platform is located in the Guangzhou tower mast antenna breathtaking location of 488 meters, also is tourists can reach the commanding heights.[11]


The Canton Tower during the 2010 Asian Games opening ceremony in November 2010 in Guangzhou, China.

See: Canton Tower Christmas Concert


The Canton Tower is situated alongside the Yiyuan Road (Yuejiang Road West), in the city of Guangzhou, which in turn, is the capital and the largest city of the provincial level division of Guangdong, which lies in the southernmost part of the People's Republic of China. Additionally, several famous landmarks surround the tower, such as few pagodas, a park towards the south, and several high-rise apartments, buildings, and skyscrapers, both commercial and residential.[3][4][8][9][10]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Canton Tower.
Canton Tower as viewed from the front entrance of Hongcheng Park. 
Canton Tower at noon. 
Canton Tower early in the afternoon, shot from the ground. 
The Canton Tower lit up at night. 
Red fireworks from the Canton Tower during the 2010 Asian Games opening ceremony, hosted in Guangzhou 
Red fireworks coming out from the Canton Tower during the 2010 Asian Games 

Construction history

February 2007 
November 2007 
August 2008 
June 2009 
Post-construction – 2010 Asian Games opening ceremony 
Post-construction – March 2011 


Comparison of the Canton Tower with the world's seven tallest towers
Outline of the Canton Tower. 
Diagram of the world's tallest buildings and structures. 
Diagram of the world's tallest buildings and structures with public observation facilities. 


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