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Hutong Tower

The circulation in a typical skyscraper through an elevator that is closed off on all sides, reveals little to an occupant of a building concerning the activity taking place within.The project was completed at the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Integrated Design Studio. Hutong Towers questions the traditional model of a repetitive floor plan and suggests a more public and dynamic experience of moving through tall buildings that more closely mirrors the rich texture of the public realm that exists in Beijing’s traditional neighborhoods.

The diagram below describes the total programmatic distribution, the office allocation, the primary and secondary circulation paths within the tower.

Connect Skyscraper Occupants
The Hutong Tower takes the example of a Paternoster, a circuitous elevator, to create a vertical street condition. In a typical building, the experience of moving through the building is similar to a vertical subway car. The activity on each floor is obscured from the traveler, who gets only a controlled glimpse into a floor that is usually only a blank wall. With the Hutong Towers, the occupant moves gracefully through the tower and experiences a vibrant community of more than 15,000 people.

Extend the Public Realm Vertically
In the case study project, a 80 story tower in Beijing is used. The tower is broken down into 10 and 15 story neighborhoods. At the intersection of each neighborhood, the elevator shifts to a horizontal motion for disembarking the vehicle. With six cars moving in both directions and a full revolution taking four minutes, the waiting period is minimal. The vehicle contains seats and even a small snack cart. The effect is a more connected vertical community as the occupants of the tower interact and experience the full range of activities that are supported by the tower.

We created a map for the interior of the building that is accessible from a mobile phone. The publicly accessible program within the building should be treated the same as those public spaces at the ground plane. The time that it takes to get to the top of the tower is equal to the map on the ground. A concert hall, sporting facility, museum and mall anchor the the major public spaces within the tower.


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