We’re breathing rarefied air here, my friends. We’re listening to only the finest Avatar soundtrack music. We’ve made it. We’re at the very, very top of the Shanghai Tower — second tallest building in the world, you know this — in the “world’s highest concert hall”. We’re eating tea and crumpets in the sky, my friends. Did you ever think we could get this high?
Last week, the Shanghai Tower — it's the big one, y'all — opened up their top two floors to the public to grovel at this marvelous feat of engineering: the Shanghai Tower Tuned Mass Damper Device. It’s at the top two floors — the 125th and 126th — at the very apex of the building — in a room that also serves as a state-of-the-art Avatar soundtrack concert hall listening space, as well as tea and crumpets delivery system.
It costs 680rmb to tour it! Money is no object! Thanks for paying SmartShanghai!
What Is a Tuned Mass Damper Device?
A Tuned Mass Damper Device is a counterbalance mechanism that mega-skyscrapers use to offset wind-induced vibrations on the buildings structure. Basically, especially in typhoon climates, strong winds will cause these massive skyscrapers to shake and shimmy, wildly and unpredictably, like a British person at a regional branch office Christmas party when George Michael comes on. Gale force winds and earthquakes can actually vibrate a skyscraper so much that they shatter in half and come tumbling to the ground — the architectural equivalent of barfing on the copy machine at the British regional office Christmas party and engaging in an ill-advised snog with Daryl from finance, to continue the metaphor. Here is what I’ve just perfectly and succinctly described in video tutorial format, featuring a dubstep soundtrack. (The wobbles, you see.)
The Tapei 101 Tuned Mass Damper Device is the world’s most famous one. The building was the first mega-skyscraper to actually bring this piece of engineering brilliance to the forefront and use it as the grand tour highlight to the whole thing. Theirs is 650 tons of swinging metal at the apex of that skyscraper. It looks like a dinosaur egg.
Then Shanghai’s like OH 650? Hold my mojito.
Behold 1000 tons of pure single entendre. This is the Shanghai Tower's Tuned Mass Damper Device.
When there's a typhoon, this enormous construct of finely wrought granite and gold swings on great iron cables like a ballet dancer, fine tuning itself to the the frequency of cosmos, creating some kind of unknowable Isaac Newton counter-force type of shit that causes the whole damn building to sway away from oblivion like it's waltzing with GOD HERSELF.
Or something like that, I'm no scientist.
But wait, that's not all...
And This Room Is Also the "World's Highest Concert Hall", You Say?
I do say. Or rather, that's what they say and I'm choosing to believe. The room that houses this Tuned Mass Damper Device is also doubling as "the World's Highest Concert Hall", and also features 260 high-definition speakers strategically placed around the room to create a 3D audio effect according to some sources, and in others as high as 4Ds of audio effect!
4D sound! The hell is that? Time travel sound? Love it!
These are the guys that built it. They're pretty pleased with it.
Barco’s IOSONO CORE audio processor [uses] 260 speakers from Fohhn’s Airea series. The speakers span over three layers in a setup that has been custom designed by Full Dimension to follow the room architecture, [creating] a holographic sound image.
So this is what happens: You get to the room at the 126th floor and are led to these Jackie Treehorn couches...
... and then they go CHECK IT OUT and through the speakers they play you a neo classical, soundtrack composition piece by Simon Franglen, known for his work on Hollywood films "Avatar" and "Titanic".
You are served these tea and crumpets...
So: less "concert hall" and more "really nice soundsystem that you're playing me music on in an absurd building"? Anyway. The music is very film score. Very Hollywood block-bluster film score, evidentally inspired by a day in the life of Shanghai and also the architecture of the Tower itself. Says Franglen:
"When you look at the skyscraper, it doesn't look like any other skyscraper in the world. It looks like it grows from the ground, rather than being stamped on the ground like many skyscrapers do. I wanted to write a piece of music that felt like it grew... If I want to put a bell in front of your face, I can. What I've done is written a piece of music that allows you to walk around inside it."
Indeed. Indeed, good sir. Evidently, the Shanghai Tower is going to have other composers feature their work in the big vulva room 126 stories above the ground.
Recommendation: Judas Priest.
So... Wanna Go?
Not so fast, music and giant golden vulva lovers. As of this writing, access to the very tipyy top of the Shanghai Tower and its golden room of audio delights and bold statements is only available to VIP tour guests. You gotta be on the VIP tour.
And it costs *beat* 680rmb.
Six hundred and eighty arr emm bee to get it. That's expensive... that's over 1rmb per meter. (It's 632 meters tall.) That's crazy, I know. I can only tell you, from this side of that separation, speaking as someone on this side, the VIP side, of that economic divide, I can understand their thinking. Maybe that's small consolation to you on that other side but here we are.
Will that number drop once the initial novelty has worn off? Likely!
Touring the Shanghai Tower: Your Options
The regular tour of the Shanghai Tower get you up to the 118th floor, the highest observations deck in the world, along with a few ground floor information areas. It's 180rmb per person. You get your tickets at the booth at the entrance. Operating hours, 8.30am to 10.30pm.
The VIP tour gets you everywhere with an English-speaking guide, including private observation deck areas, up into the damper room, a free photograph of yourself in front of the vulva, crumpets, tea, and other information areas above the observation deck pertaining to the engineering of the Shanghai Tower. It's 680rmb and you've got to call ahead in advance and request an English-speaking guide. The number: 2065 6998.
Bonus VIP Readers Blog Section: Here's A Few Things You're Missing Because There's No Way You're Paying that 680rmb...
- Complimentary water bottles that are in the shape of the Shanghai Tower! Clever!
- Snazzy swing-your-arms-around-and-the-computer-screen-goes-whiiiirrrrrr! displays of the world's highest towers
- Neat little interactive information booths on the upper floors that make the Damper Device look like it's plotting to poison Gotham's water system.
- The VIP section of the Observation Deck. Unencumbered views of Shanghai tailored to society's upper crust.
Eh... that's pretty much it!
The Shanghai Tower is at 479 Lujiazui Huan Lu, near Dongtai Lu. You can't miss it. Daily hours are 8.30am to 10.30pm for the observation deck. More tourist information right here.