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Lotte World Tower marks the tallest building in South Korea

by Suzanne Miao on Oct 17, 2017 in Architecture , Top Story
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At 555 metres high, Lotte World Tower is South Korea's tallest building and the fifth tallest in the world, marking yet another remarkable achievement for Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Making its debut in April this year, the 123-storey Lotte World Tower, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), is located in the Jamsil district of Seoul. Rising 555 m, the multi-functional tower houses a complex mix of programming, from offices, "officetels" and a hotel, to retail and cultural spaces. The mountainous topography of its setting, while creating a spectacular natural backdrop for the tower, also informed its design. Slender and tapering as it soars to its peak, Lotte World Tower's sleek curves are rendered in silver glass and filigrees of white lacquered metal, a combination that echoes the graceful calligraphy and ceramic artistry of the country's traditional arts and culture.

The world's highest glass-bottomed observation deck offers panoramic views, not just from side to side, but down as well – precisely 468m below

The world's highest glass-bottomed observation deck offers panoramic views, not just from side to side, but down as well – precisely 468m below

There are 120 habitable floors available for tenants and visitors, mixing the tower's public and private realms. Retail functions and a health centre occupy floors 1-11; floors 13-38 house the offices; a seven-star luxury hotel takes up floors 76-101; then premium offices on floors 107-114; the observatory, cafe and gallery occupy floors 117-122; and finally, an outdoor observatory on the roof at level 123.

Lotte World Tower is KPF's fifth design on the list of the world's 10 tallest buildings; according to KPF design principal James von Klemperer, this can be attributed to the firm maintaining its focus on the densest and most vibrant parts of cities

Lotte World Tower is KPF's fifth design on the list of the world's 10 tallest buildings; according to KPF design principal James von Klemperer, this can be attributed to the firm maintaining its focus on the densest and most vibrant parts of cities

As with all supertalls, Lotte World Tower faces challenges from the elements, most notably the wind. According to KPF project manager Terri Cho, this is the main reason the building is tapered: "It not only provides better stability against wind load, but also responds to various leasing depths for the tower's mixed-use programme," she says. "The lower, wider portion of the tower is designed to allow 13-15m-deep leasing space for offices, while the tapered, middle-to-upper portions reflect a 7-9m range of depth that is appropriate for residential and hotel spaces."

Retail functions at Lotte World Tower are located towards the base of the structure, on floors 1-9

Retail functions at Lotte World Tower are located towards the base of the structure, on floors 1-9

This has necessitated the integration of critical safety elements in terms of both structural integrity and usage by occupants: the building's major components are its core, mega-columns, and outrigger and belt trusses. Reaching the tower's height, the core acts as the backbone where all major elevators and mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) are concentrated. This maximises tenant-usable space around the core. "The mega-columns at the office levels are approximately 25m apart, allowing significant lengths of column-free space for the tenants and taking full advantage of desirable city views," explains Cho. "The outrigger and belt trusses are located on each mechanical floor, providing lateral supports to the tower and compounding its overall structural stability.

Photography © Tim Griffith / KPF

This is an excerpt from the “Rise of the supertalls" article from the October 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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