White column provides low carbon energy and artistic allure
Manchester has a new low-carbon energy center that will supply heat and power to several buildings throughout the region. The architectural and functional design of the structure is a result of 10 years of innovative material and geometric research by Architect Tonkin Liu.
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The process is called a Shell Lace Structure and the result is the thin and lightweight Tower of Light. The structure consists of laser-cut sheets of thin steel welded together and curved into shape. The final design, developed in conjunction with engineers at Arup, won several awards. Some notable mentions includes Public Realm, Civic Trust Award 2022 and Net Zero, Future Cities Forum Awards 2020.
At the base of the tower is the Wall of Energy. It is an artistic façade made of 1373 glazed ceramic tiles that encloses the workings of the energy center. Together, the functional display acts as a gateway into Manchester’s historic district and “make a statement about the city’s zero-carbon ambition, creating a nature-inspired addition to Manchester’s historic cityscape,” according to the architect.
Furthermore, the Tower of Light is highly energy efficient. As wind blows through the structure, reflectors inside move and redirect sunlight throughout the tower. Similarly, the Wall of Energy reflects car lights and passing clouds. For special celebrations throughout the year, both structures illuminate in colored lights.