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Engineering the CCTV Tower

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OMA and Arup’s striking design for the new CCTV headquarters building in Beijing was designed to challenge the seemingly banal and never-ending race to be the tallest building in the world. The result is a landmark structure that not only has height, but also longevity in terms of an iconic shape and structure. CCTV combines the entire TV process – administration, news, broadcasting, studios and programme production – in a sequence of interconnected activities within two 230m tall leaning towers that slope at 6° in each direction, connected by a 13-storey ‘Overhang’ suspended 36 storeys in the air. The building is not a traditional tower, but a continuous loop of horizontal and vertical sections that establish an urban site rather than point to the sky. The irregular grid on the building’s facades is an expression of the forces travelling through its structure. It would be a significant structural challenge anywhere in the world, but is especially so as Beijing is in a highly seismic zone. The structural engineers, Arup, needed to carry out a huge amount of work to demonstrate structural stability in order to satisfy local planning and approval needs. This talk will explore some of the technical challenges faced by the structural team as they began to develop a structure that would maintain the architectural vision whilst being functional, earthquake-resistant and – most importantly – buildable. The presentation will also touch on some of the other notable structures that have been built in Beijing in readiness for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Chas Pope Chas Pope is a senior structural engineer with Arup in Beijing. He joined the firm in 1998 after graduating from Christ’s College, Cambridge University, and spent five years in a multidisciplinary building engineering design office in London before joining the CCTV project team and transferring to the Beijing office. He is currently working on other projects with OMA , notably the new Shenzhen Stock Exchange building in southern China.

Away from the office, he is a keen photographer who is particularly interested in recording the changes faced by Beijing as it prepares for the Olympics in 2008.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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