Safdie Architects’ towering ‘sidescraper’ opens to the public in China

Totally Tubular

Safdie Architects’ towering ‘sidescraper’ opens to the public in China

Raffles City Chongqing sits on reclaimed land on Chongqing’s waterfront. (Courtesy CapitaLand)

The connective tissue of Safdie Architects’ 22.7-acre Raffles City Chongqing development, a cluster of eight skyscrapers on the waterfront of Chongqing, China, is a tower in its own right—joining four of the buildings onsite together is the 980-foot-long Crystal, the world’s tallest sky bridge. Now, the sideways tower is open to the visiting public, although the rest of the development remains much under construction.

Raffles City is the largest project Safdie Architects has taken on thus far, but the form isn’t without precedent; in 2011, Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort opened in Singapore with a 1,120-foot-long “garden skypark” on the 57th story that quickly became a landmark.

A pocket park enclosed by glass
The pocket park on inside of the Crystal. (Courtesy CapitaLand)

Developer Capitaland is clearly hoping to emulate that success on a much larger scale at Raffles City. The 11-million-square-foot mixed-use development holds 2.5 million square feet of retail across the mall in its 5-story podium, which opened in November of last year. As for the towers themselves, 1,400 luxury units will be spread across the five residential Raffles City towers, while the remaining three buildings will host 380 hotel rooms and 1.6 million square feet of office space.

Eight-hundred-and-twenty feet off the ground lies the Crystal, which is limiting daily attendance to 3,000 $25 tickets at a time. After a 50 second elevator ride to the top, visitors are free to roam and experience a series of exhibitions as they make their way to the glass-bottomed, cantilevering observation deck overlooking the intersection of the Yangtze and the Jialing rivers. From the elevator, guests walk through an exhibition about what living on Mars could eventually be like, then through a pocket park; a members-only clubhouse with swimming pools, bars, restaurants, and other amenities will open later.

Interior photo from within a curved glass facade with a pool
The Crystal is perched above four of the eight skyscrapers and will feature an infinity pool and related recreational programming. (Courtesy Safdie Architects)

Arup was responsible for the project’s engineering, which was no small feat considering the tower-spanning tube weighs 12,000 tons. From interior photos, the looks like Safdie Architects stuck with the same glass curtain wall and exposed steel supports (and naming convention) as their Changi Airport Jewel.