These are the first images of the latest design of what will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Lotte Super Tower in Seoul, South Korea, if built.
Designed by leading architects Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the tower will be 555 metres tall tapering gently from a wider base. The shape of the building is also manipulated starting off with a square floor-plate of 70 x 70 metres and gradually morphing into a circular 40 metre one as the height progresses.
Responding to the shrinking floor-plates, the building uses which require the largest areas such as office and retail will be located at the bottom of the tower whilst the upper floors will be set aside for hotel accommodation and a viewing platform. In total it will be 15% retail, 50% office, 30% hotel and 5% for the observation area.
The appearance of the building is dominated by lattice-work that takes on the look of a diagrid, famously used in 30 St Mary Axe in London and less creatively but just as famously in a defining SOM skyscraper, the Hancock Tower in Chicago.
This webbing of metal has one major advantage over the traditional steel-framed buildings of having much stronger structural strength so less metalwork can be used and building costs are saved by the developer.
The diagrid can also be configured by the architect in the design process to adapt to such things as structural loads in a way that a more stricter frame could not. This was seen in action with 30 St Mary Axe which actually shrunk a fraction of an inch when completed as the frame compressed slightly to hold the weight once gravity kicked it and it settled into the site.
Responding to potential strains on the Lotte Super Tower, SOM has designed the structural columns so they are steepest at the bottom to take into account the gravity loads and shallowest at the top to take stresses from the wind in a process called "vortex shedding" that manipulates the wind flow.
At night the superscraper will be particularly stunning. A lighting scheme has been designed where the diagonal cross-bracing that wraps around the tower will be lit up with a series of white lights like a Christmas tree. At the top, beams will shoot up from the crown illuminating the sky above as if the structure finishes in a torch light.
Particular attention has been paid to the base that will have blue uplighters but also a deeper red colour scheme on the interior of the lowest levels, creating a feeling of depth through the facades and cross-bracing as well as expressing the complex structure visually.
The Lotte Group are already a major developer within Korea with a number of large towers on their portfolio but this one will be one of the tallest buildings in the world if it is actually completed. That could however be another story - Korea has a long and illustrious history of proposing enormous towers that fail to get off the ground.
Even if the scheme is never realised it's a far cry from the earliest origins of Lotte, that of a chewing gum and confectionary manufacturer in Japan in 1948, and a victory of sorts that shows the smallest starts can lead to the grandest designs.