Remarkable observation tower functions like an oversized sundial

OPEN Architecture has already proven itself skilled at turning imaginative renders into real buildings with its Chapel of Sound and is now doing so again with its upcoming Sun Tower. The project is nearing completion and will pull double duty as both an observation tower and a remarkable sundial-like structure that marks the changing seasons.

The Sun Tower reaches a maximum height of 50 m (164 ft) in Yantai, eastern China. It’s situated on the beach, a stone’s throw from the sea, and is inspired by the area’s history of Sun worshipping, as well as its famous watchtowers, which were once used to warn the Chinese Emperor of possible seaborne attacks.

Structurally, the building is made up of white concrete, which has been carefully shaped to respond to the Sun’s trajectory. Round holes on its exterior are connected to a series of tubes, which channel natural light into the interior during the daytime. At night, its windows will be illuminated in a way designed to look like a starry sky. In addition to the building itself, its landscaping is very complex and will respond to the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring and Fall equinox.

“A specially designed water channel cuts across the plaza – a ruler of time – this is the straight line that the shadow of the Sun Tower will follow on the day of the equinox,” explained the firm. “A series of elliptical rings are set in the pavement pattern; the intersections between the rings and the water channel mark the building shadow’s footprint at specific hours on the equinox day. At one of the outer rings, a series of fountains were designed to celebrate the 24 Solar Terms of the Traditional Chinese Calendar; on normal days they are synced with high and low tides.”

The Sun Tower's outer concrete shell is connected to light tubes, which will channel natural light into the interior during the daytime
The Sun Tower’s outer concrete shell is connected to light tubes, which will channel natural light into the interior during the daytime

OPEN Architecture

The interior will include exhibition space, multiple meditation spaces and a library and viewing point near the top. There will also be an outdoor theater on ground level, which OPEN says will have superb acoustics thanks to the tower’s sculpted shape.

The Sun Tower’s basic structure is now complete – indeed, with excellent timing, OPEN actually carried out the topping out ceremony during the Northern Hemisphere’s recent Summer Solstice. Work is ongoing to finish it off and it’s expected to open to the public sometime in 2024.

Source: OPEN Architecture

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