BIG’s Telus Sky Tower is “composed to form a feminine silhouette”

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Danish architecture studio BIG has unveiled the 222-meter-tall Telus Sky Tower in Calgary, Alberta, which has a pixelated facade that twists diagonally from its base and “stands like a lady in a cluster of cowboys”.

The studio revealed photos of the skyscraper, which was completed in 2020, showing its twisted design which was created to signify the transition between the building’s office and residential programs.

Danish architecture studio BIG has designed a twisted skyscraper for Alberta

Its curved shape is meant to diversify the skyline, which is otherwise characterized by office towers and car-driven avenues.

The car is an essential part of daily life to move people in and out of the city, with the programmatic uniformity of the city center leaving the area empty at night when people return home,” said declared BIG.

BIG skyscraper Telus Sky Alberta
The tower has office and residential programs

“By stacking homes on top of an office tower, Telus Sky generates a programmatically diverse building with activity throughout the day,“added the studio.

The twisting facade and pixelated exterior of the 60-story skyscraper allowed the studio to create balconies for the inhabitants of the residential upper floors.

BIG skyscraper Telus Sky Alberta
The twisted front allows the accommodations to be distanced from each other

As the tower rises, the floor plates become smaller and move away from the base footprint.

BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said the move gives the tower a sense of femininity amid a more masculine skyline.

BIG skyscraper Telus Sky Alberta
Bjarke Ingels said the tower had a “feminine silhouette”

“The texture of the facade evolves from smooth glass at the base of the building to a three-dimensional composition of protrusions and recesses,” Ingels said.

“The resulting form expresses the unification of the two programs in a single gesture – rational straight lines composed to form a feminine silhouette.”

“Surrounded by blocky skyscrapers occupied by oil companies, Telus stands like a lady in a cowboy band,” he continued.

BIG skyscraper Telus Sky Alberta
The cantilevers were used to make balconies on the base of the tower

Skybridges connect the skyscraper – which was developed by Vancouver’s Westbank – to the neighboring building, a switching station.

According to the studio, the relationship between the two buildings has been conceptualized as a “vertical canyon” that “extends the semi-public network upwards”.

Above the entrance to the Telus Sky Tower, a series of envelopes have been extended beyond the face of the structure and cantilevered over the sidewalk, creating balconies.

Gardens and rooftop terraces have been placed on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors.

Tall skyscraper Telus Sky inside Alberta
The structure uses a storm water management system for gray water

The base of the Telus Sky Tower contains an 11-story atrium that centers the office elements of the structure and features a living green wall.

The architecture studio implemented a stormwater management system for the tower that uses rainwater for the structure’s gray water needs. According to BIG, this has reduced dependence on the local water supply network by 70%.

BIG Telus Sky Skyscraper Alberta Interior Green Wall
The lobby features an 11-story atrium

Measures have also been taken to reduce the building’s energy demand. This was achieved by using a thermal system of pipes that carry hot water through the city to heat the tower.

“Underlining the functional design of the building, it was essential for Westbank and the city that Telus Sky deliver holistic benefits to its residents, including the highest levels of natural light, optimized energy efficiency, reduced water consumption, locally sourced materials and access to transit,” the studio said.

BIG Skyscrapers Telus Sky Alberta interiors
The skyscraper is connected to an adjacent building

The north and south facades of the tower feature a 160,000 square foot (14,864 square meter) art installation by Douglas Coupland. It’s lit up at night and the largest piece of public art in Calgary, according to the studio.

BIG has created a number of internationally well-known skyscrapers and other buildings and has also collaborated with Westbank, including the curvy Vancouver House skyscraper.

In New York, the studio’s Spiral skyscraper is nearing completion.

The photography is by Laurian Ghinitoiu.


Project credits:

Customer: Westbank Projects Corp., Telus, Allied Development Corp.
Collaborators: BIG IDEAS, DIALOG, Integral Group, Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers, LDMG Building Code Consultants, Gunn Consultants, Bunt & Associates Consulting Engineers, RSI Studio, Luxigon, BVDA Façade Engineering LTD, Morrison Hershfield
GREAT team:
Partner in charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen
Project Manager: Christopher White, Carl MacDonald
Project architect: Stephanie Choi, Michael Zhang
Project designer: Iannis Kandyliaris
Crew: Alex Wu, Barbora Srpkova, Beat Schenk, Benjamin Caldwell, Benjamin Johnson, Brian Rome, Bryan Hardin, Carolien Schippers, Choonghyo Lee, Chris Gotfredsen, Daisy Zhong, David Spittler, Davide Maggio, Deborah Campbell, Dennis Harvey, Douglas Alligood, Elena Bresciani , Florencia Kratsman, Gaurav Janey, Haoyue Wang, Ho Kyung Lee, Iris van der Heide, Isshin Morimoto, Ivy Hume, Jakob Lange, Jan Leenknegt, Jennifer Phan, Julie Kaufman, Justyna Mydlak, Ku Hun Chung, Manon Gicquel, Mateusz Rek, Maya Shopova, Megan van Artsdalen, Michael Zhang, Mike Evola, Peter Lee, Quentin Stanton, Sun Yifu, Tara Hagan, Terry Lallak, Tianqi Zhang, Yaziel Juarbe, Yoanna Shivarova
Project manager, interiors: Francesca Portesin
Team, interiors: Agne Rapkeviciute, Christopher White, Cristian Lera, Jack Lipson, John Kim, Lina Bondarenko, Nicholas Coffee


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