Earth & Conservation

Building the Tallest Tower in China

The Shanghai Tower is much more than just an addition to the city's skyline.

<p>Joe Nafis // Vimeo</p>

The Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world, only surpassed by the Birj Khalifa in Dubai. The building is made up of retail space, offices and hotels, with breathtaking views of the glittering city from observation decks on the top floors. There's even a double decker elevator that takes less than a minute to travel 1,900 feet (580 meters).

Joe Nafis arrived in Shanghai in 2009, when the tower was just a hole in the ground with construction workers laying concrete for the foundation. In 2011, he decided to set up a camera that would capture the slow rise of the tower over the next four years.

Now that it's completed, The Shanghai Tower is one of the most sustainable tall buildings in the world. It has a unique transparent second skin wrapping around it that encloses a system of ventilated atriums. These atriums help with temperature regulation by acting as a barrier between the building and the outside weather, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter, therefore using less energy from air conditioning and central heating.

"The completion of the Shanghai Tower not only represents the financial success of Shanghai, it symbolizes China's new self-confidence and the shift in the global balance of economic power," said Nafis.

To the people of China, The Shanghai Tower is much more than a tall skyscraper.

See more of Shanghai in this beautifully captured video "The Streets of Shanghai"