This twisted carbon-eating tower is rising in the East
architecture

This twisted carbon-eating tower is rising in the East

Updated 6th January 2017
The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan, designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, is expected to be completed in September 2017. Scroll through the gallery to see the Tao Zhu Yin Yuan's design as well as other spiraled skyscrapers from around the world. Credit: Vincent Callebaut
The tower, rotating 4.5 degrees at every level, allows for panoramic views of Taipei's skyline, and each view from four surrounding streets proposes four different profiles. Credit: Vincent Callebaut
The eco-friendly tower will have 23,000 trees, which allows it to absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide annually, claims the architect. Architect Vincent Callebaut's vision is that "the city is like an ecosystem, the center is like a forest, and the tower is like an inhabited tree." Credit: Vincent Callebaut
Applying ancient Taiji philosophy about the natural world, its structure is in double helix form of DNA, which is a symbol of life and dynamism. "A modern healthy feng shui (concept) was created by employing natural elements to generate a breathing building and to ensure the mental and physical health of residents," says Callebaut. Credit: Vincent Callebaut
The main challenge for the architect was to create two big units per floor, while being green, sustainable and earthquake-resistant in design. "Sunlight, thermal and wind analysis have enabled us to improve the bioclimatic design of the project," Callebaut says. Credit: VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES
The building's double helix design is modeled after a strand of DNA, and the area covered by plants totals to 65,230 square feet (6,060 square meters). "The double-helix building structure generates a maximum of cascades of suspended open-air gardens." Credit: vincent callebaut architectures
The Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has released a comprehensive list of the world's twisting tall buildings that are either completed or under construction. From Shanghai to Dubai, CNN takes a look at these spectacular spiraled skyscrapers, as well as some of the other tallest buildings in the world. Credit: courtesy GORPROJECT
Topping CTBUH's list in terms of height is Shanghai Tower, which twirls 632 meters (2,073 feet) into the sky. Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Shanghai Tower is also the tallest building in China, and the second tallest skyscraper in the world after the famous Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Credit: Connie Zhou/courtesy gensler
Located in Shanghai's burgeoning Lujiazui financial district and designed by architects Marshall Strabala and Jun Xia from the firm Gensler, its twisted form accommodates strong typhoon winds. The tower was completed at the end of 2015. Credit: Connie Zhou/courtesy gensler
Although not yet completed, the second tallest twisted building on CTBUH's list is the Lakhta Center, a tower in St Petersburgh, Russia. Credit: via lakhta center press center
Designed by British architect Tony Kettle in conjunction with Gorproject, the tower has a projected height of 462 meters (1,516 feet) and is due to be completed by the end of 2018. Credit: via lakhta center press center
'The Eleventh' towers in Manhattan, New York, will have a rotating aesthetic that gives the appearance of movement. The towers, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, will stand 300 and 400 meters tall when they are completed in 2019. Credit: Bjarke Ingels Group
A residential skyscraper in Dubai Marina, Ocean Heights stands 310 meters (1,017 feet) tall and has 83 floors. The tower is the second highest twisting tall building that's been completed and was designed by American architect, Andrew Bromberg from Aedas. Credit: designed by Andrew Bromberg at Aedas
Completed in 2013 and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Cayan Tower soars 306 meters (1,005 feet) into the sky. It's the third tallest twisted tower in the world that's complete, according to CTBUH. Credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A white ribbon wraps around Moscow's stunning Evolution Tower, which topped out at 246 meters (807 feet) when completed in 2015. Credit: courtesy GORPROJECT
Inspired by the city's St Basil Cathedral and Russia's never completed Talin's Tower, the chief architect for design was Philip Nikandrov, from Gorproject. Credit: courtesy GORPROJECT
The world's first ever twisted tall building was the 190 meter (623 feet) Turning Torso, which was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2005. Credit: JOHAN NILSSON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
"The unconventional form of a twisting building means every component of tall building design must be rethought," says the CTBUH report author, Shawn Ursini. Credit: AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Dubbed the 'Marilyn Monroe' towers by local residents due to its fluid, natural lines, Absolute World Towers was designed by MAD architects. Credit: Iwan Baan/courtesy MAD Architects
Absolute World's two twisted towers stand at 176 meters (577 feet) and 158 meters (518 feet) tall. Credit: Tom Arban Photography Inc
Claiming the crown for the world's tallest building upon its completion in 2010, the Burj Khalifa stands a massive 198 meters (650 feet) above its nearest completed competitor. Credit: istockphoto
However, the Burj Khalifa's 828 meter (2,717 feet) mark on Dubai's skyline may soon be eclipsed by a new mega-tall skyscraper. Credit: image courtes of emaar / via aurecon group
Although not yet officially named, 'The Tower' at Dubai Creek Harbour will be 100m taller than the Burj Khalifa. Credit: image courtes of emaar / via aurecon group
The Santiago Calatrava designed tower is expected to be completed in 2020 and will hold ten observation decks in its oval-shaped peak. Credit: image courtes of emaar / via aurecon group
Also competing for the title of the world's tallest building is Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the tower aims to break the 1 km (3,280 feet) threshold upon its expected completion in 2019. Such innovation doesn't come cheap - the building is expected to cost $1.23 billion. Credit: Jeddah Economic Company/Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Taking the race to even further extremes, a proposal for a tower double the height of the Burj Khalifa was unveiled In Feburary by Kohn Pefersen Fox Associates (KPF) and Leslie E Robertson Associates (LERA).
The 1,600 meter -- one entire mile -- tower is part of a future city concept named "Next Tokyo 2045," which envisions a floating mega-city in Tokyo Bay. Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox
In December 2015, plans were unveiled for 1 Undershaft -- a 300 meter (984 feet) tall building that could become the City of London's tallest skyscraper. Credit: DBOX
1 Undershaft will sit across the river from London's existing tallest building, The Shard, which sits 309 meters (1,013 feet) above London at its highest point. Credit: DBOX
432 Park Avenue, the tallest all-residential tower in the western hemisphere, opened its doors in December 2015 and recently became the hundredth supertall building in the world. The 425.5 meter (1,396 feet) building was designed by Rafael Vinoly of SLCE Architects. Credit: Courtesy CIM Group
Known as the "Freedom Tower," One World Trade Center stands on part of the site previously occupied by the Twin Towers. At 541 meters (1,776 feet) it's the highest building in the western hemisphere, and cost $3.9 billion according to Forbes. The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The first skyscraper to break the half-kilometer mark, Taipei 101 stands at 508 meters (1,667 feet) tall. Designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners to withstand the elements -- including typhoons, earthquakes and 216 km/h winds -- Taipei 101 utilizes a 660-tonne mass damper ball suspended from the 92nd floor, which sways to offset the movement of the building. Credit: Taiwan Tourism
Construction of Shanghai's third supertall building took 11 years, but the skyscraper dubbed "The Bottle Opener" was met with critical praise and high-end residents when it was completed in 2008. At 492 meters (1,614 feet) tall, the Kohn Pederson Fox building's residents include the Park Hyatt Shanghai and offices for Ernst & Young, Morgan Stanley, and BNP Paribas. Credit: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Image
Hong Kong's tallest building has 108 floors -- but walking around it, you'd get a different story. The city's tetraphobia -- the fear of the number four -- means floors with the number have been skipped and the 484 meter (1,588 feet) tall International Commerce Center is marketed as a 118-story skyscraper. The building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The joint eighth highest completed skyscraper is still the tallest twin towers in the world at 451.9 meters (1,483 feet). Finished in 1996 and inaugurated in 1999, it's been the site of numerous hair-raising stunts. Felix Baumgartner set a then-BASE jump world record in 1999 by jumping off a window cleaning crane, and in 2009 Frenchman Alain Robert, known as "Spiderman," freeclimbed to the top of Tower Two without safety equipment -- and did so in under two hours. It was designed by Cesar Pelli. Credit: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Completed in March 2016, the Lotte World Tower is Seoul's first supertall skyscraper, and currently the sixth tallest building in the world. At 556 meters (1,824 feet) tall, the building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Credit: Teddy Cross
Written by Melissa Hassett, CNN
Paris-based architect Vincent Callebaut wants his buildings to be more than your average tower block. His vision is ambitious: create an energy-saving, carbon-absorbing civilization to fight global warming.
"I want to give hope for a better tomorrow," he says.
One of his eco-friendly ideas is taking root right now in Taipei, Taiwan's capital city. When Tao Zhu Yin Yuan -- meaning "The Retreat of Tao Zhu" -- is completed later this year, the residential complex will be covered in 23,000 trees and shrubs.
While Callebaut likens the building to an urban forest, its appearance is actually modeled after a strand of DNA -- a double helix twisting 90-degrees from base to top.
If all goes to plan, Callebaut says the plants will absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year -- the equivalent of around 27 cars.
Credit: Vincent Callebaut
Taiwan as a whole produced more than 250 million tons of CO2 in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency. Callebaut admits it is a small step, but insists it's "a big leap [against] global warming."
"The tower presents a pioneer concept of sustainable residential eco-construction that aims at limiting the ecological footprint of its inhabitants," Callebaut explains.
The 21-story apartment complex builds in ways for residents to reduce their energy consumption. The design utilizes natural lighting and ventilation. It also includes rainwater recycling and rooftop solar panels.
Plans for underwater 'oceanscraper' revealed
Callebaut has been behind several notable eco-concepts over the years, from a floating garden designed to clean European rivers to underwater skyscrapers created from ocean garbage. He has planned a 132-story urban farm for New York City, and an ambitious project to transform Paris from the City of Light into a green smart city by 2050.
"Outlandish and futuristic as [they] may seem," Callebaut says, "the core of all my designs is an attempt to address the real threat that cities pose for humankind and our ecological balance."
The self-described "archibiotect" discusses his work with CNN Style below.
CNN: What inspired the design of Tao Zhu Yin Yuan?
Vincent Callebaut: The project is a perfect fusion of Western and Oriental technology and culture. The tower is directly inspired by the double-helix structure of DNA, the source of life and the symbol of harmony, and reflects upon the idea of ultimate balance.
1/28Napoli-Afragola High Speed Train Station, Naples
London-based Zaha Hadid Architects brings a sculptural touch to the design of the Napoli-Afragola High Speed Train Station. Credit: Zaha Hadid Architects
There are a number of notable vertical gardens in Asia, such as Seoul's "Green Wall" and "Skygarden." Is this a bigger trend?
In 2050, we will be 9 million human beings on our blue planet, and 80% of the world population will live in megacities. It's time to take action against climate change, to invent new eco-responsible lifestyles and to incorporate nature into our cities.
It's not a trend. It's a necessity!
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You call yourself an "archibiotect." What does that mean to you?
Archibiotect is the new transdisciplinary approach invented by myself in 2008.
(Archibiotect is a word combining the prefixes of the words architecture + biotechnologies + technologies of information and communication.)
Whereas the primary reason of architecture has been to protect man against nature, the contemporary city strives to reconcile human beings and their natural ecosystems. The garden is no more placed side-by-side to the building; it is the building! The architecture becomes cultivable, edible and sustainable.
Tao Zhu Yin Yuan, begins to take shape in Taipei Credit: Vincent Callebaut
What do you hope people learn from your concepts?
To think "outside of the box," to shake up the old structures. To make society evolve is the most difficult thing to do in this world...but it is possible step by step.
I hope people learn that it is possible to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The planet is in a state of decline and there haven't been enough proactive initiatives taken in saving Mother Earth.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
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