Sculpture - City
Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Urban View Low Res

Tower of Light

Flue tower and façade, 2019

Completion year: 2019
Location: Manchester, UK
Client: Manchester City Council and Vital Energi
Architect: Tonkin Liu
Structural engineer: Arup
Lighting consultant: Seam

Tower of Light is a flue tower and façade enclosing the new Vital Energi CHP energy centre in Manchester's Civic Quarter. 

Its 40m tall structure employs Tonkin Liu's Shell Lace structural technique, developed in collaboration with Arup, to make super-light, super-thin single-surface structures. Made from tailored 3-8mm thick laser-cut sheets that are then curved and welded together to create a stiff strong surface, the biomimetic structure will support the chimneys from the base of the energy centre. It is an ultra-lightweight, vertical single surface structure whose form is its strength, using the least material to achieve the most.

Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Close Up Street Low Res
Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Drawing

Reflectors moved by the wind reflect sunlight to fill the tower with moving light during the day. At night the gently-lit tower and reflective white brick podium form a holistic energy landmark, herald the new era of low-carbon, locally produced energy.

Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Interior View Golden Light Low Res
Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Night Rain

Capture the energy of the sun
Harness the power of the wind
Herald the city’s low carbon future

Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Wireframe Low Res
Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Model2
Tower Of Light Tonkin Liu Model1

Four architecture practices - Tonkin Liu, Hawkins Brown, Marks Barfield, and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios - were shortlisted to submit designs in a competition to ensure the energy centre and tower structure became a positive addition to the Civic Quarter.

After presentations were made to a panel made up of council representatives and relevant experts, including former RIBA president Stephen Hodder, Tower of Light, developed alongside Arup, was chosen.