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World’s longest canopy skylight features ETFE cushions

Features | June 1, 2019 | By:

By Bruce N. Wright, AIA

Like a sinuous paper dragon in a Chinese parade, bobbing and weaving between rooftops and towers, the Shimao “Dream Street” Plaza canopy floats above the sidewalk in a bejeweled state. Composed of about 406 trapezoidal ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) cushions, it is framed in a long unfolding strip on structural stilts that range between 50 meters at the low point to 69.4 meters at the highest. Shishi City, located in Quanzhou region of south-central China, is one of the numerous urbanized areas that have developed rapidly over the past 10 years. 

This city is the work of Shimao Properties, one of the largest development companies in the country. This planned urban cityscape includes a five-star hotel, office buildings, a commercial street and retail center, a large Ferris wheel, family villas and mansions, living quarters for the elderly and educational facilities for children. The city is planned for an eventual population of 20,000.

As part of the first phase of development, Shimao Skyscraper City plaza focuses on the Dream Street canopy as a “honeypot” to attract visitors and high activity. Covering an area of about 12,000 square meters, at a length of 532 meters, it is the world’s longest canopy skylight. Masters Architectural Office designed the canopy to integrate computer-generated and programmed lighting to project special lighting and eye-mesmerizing effects with sound. The themes include “walking the universe,” scenes of nature or live world events.

Shanghai Taiyo Kogyo Co. Ltd., the fabricator and installer of the canopy, used advanced 3D cutting technology to achieve the accuracy and arching height and precision needed to meet stringent coastal codes for loads and water drainage. Working closely with the project management company Zhou, Wengang and the graphics company Zhang, Ying, Shanghai Taiyo successfully completed one of its largest projects on one of the tightest construction sites it has ever worked. 

This project was an Outstanding Achievement winner in IFAI’s 2018 International Achievement Awards competition.

Bruce N. Wright, AIA, is an architect, teacher, consultant to architects and designers and a frequent contributor to Specialty Fabrics Review, Fabric Architectureand Advanced Textiles Source.

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