Upward Spiral: Moscow’s City Evolution Tower | GLASSCON GmbH – Architectural Building Skins, Façade Solutions, Curtain Walls, Glazing, Solar Shading, Brise Soleil
Moscow City Evolution Tower

Upward Spiral: Moscow’s City Evolution Tower

Evolution Tower  - World’s largest innovative cold-bent glazing facade
The Evolution Tower, aka City Palace Tower or Wedding Palace, has arguably become Moscow City’s new architectural landmark. Located in the high-rise business district on the Presnenskaya Embankment, the tower’s iconic spiral design celebrates the speed and energy of urban life in Moscow.

With its 80,000 sq.m. office area, the tower has become the most prestigious business center of Moscow International Business Center project. Besides offices, its twisted floors accommodate 36,000 sq.m. of shopping and entertainment center and covered parking area. This impressive building stands at a total of 245.9 meters to its tip. The highest occupied point is at an impressive 220 meters above ground level.

Evolution Tower’s Design
The Tower, designed by Tony Kettle in collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art Professor Karen Forbes, was inspired by “Rodin’s Kiss” and resembles two twisted ribbons embracing each other in dance. The building’s sensuous form is integral to its design and addresses the quality in conceptual innovation combined with a high level of technological engineering.

The inspiration for the tower comes from Rodin’s Kiss

The Construction of Evolution Tower
Evolution Tower takes the record for the most extreme twist. Philip Nikandrov, the chief architect, believes that the initial design of the Tower, revealed in 2004, set off a wave of imitators, as it took 12 years to go from design to handover. 

Philip says:

Through the economic crisis and many subsequent design team iterations, the essential twisting form has endured. The appropriately named final product demonstrates the persistent value of a strong concept. The tower, against many odds, has definitively spiraled upward and taken its place in the city’s skyline.

Construction began in 2008 but it was first proposed in 2005 and finally completed in 2015. The Tower’s construction combines state-of-art engineering techniques and features Russian Architectural styles. Each of the 54 floors is constantly twisted by 3°, whilst being arranged around the central core of the building, lets the skyscraper experience an elegant rotation in a clockwise direction from the base to the top by more than 150°.

The uniqueness of the cold-bent glazing of the Evolution Tower
The proposed structural scheme with cantilevered continuous RC beams and cantilevered floor slabs picking up the overhangs from the twisted floor plates appeared to be simple, efficient and economical. The complex sculptural tower envelope was built using innovative cold-bent glazing with flat double glazed units cold-formed in 3D within the aluminum frame under its own weight, taking the shape of the frame without any thermal impact. Maximum deformation of one corner of the glass unit from the plane is no more than 50 mm. The end result is a façade that looks like a single shell of glass, curved in a spiral. Today, this curved facade is the largest cold-faced facade in the world. This approach appears to be both an energy-efficient and cost-efficient solution in comparison to the stepped curtain wall units previously applied in some twisted unitized facades. 

The façade consists of 108 separate facade block-panels 4,3 m high and 1,5 m wide, 27 of which have different geometric dimensions of two different types, with an angle of inclination varying from +14 degrees to -14 degrees, which calls for the complex engineering of the project. The building's envelope features double glazed insulating units with heat strengthened, solar protection glass (8mm HS +6mm HS laminated +air gap +8mm FT coated solar protection glass). The multifunctional architectural glass significantly reduces the solar gain whilst providing the double glazed unit thermal performance equal to standard triple glazed unit normally used in Moscow to withstand harsh winter conditions.

Cold-bent glass: an affordable solution for curved glass constructions
With cold curved glass technology, an affordable solution has been introduced for curved glass constructions retaining optical qualities. With cold bend glass, no heating takes place and does not have to be molded. This is a great advantage if break replacement is required. The product is constantly being developed. From cold-curable laminated glass to cold-curable insulating glass to integrate PV solar cells into the laminated glass. The last count in the sustainable family of cold curved glass is the cold curved triple insulation glass.
However, despite its growing presence in the international construction scene, this technology has been used sparingly. Concerns regarding long-term stresses and deformations induced on the glass and silicone by the cold-bending process may be one of the reasons for its sparse use. Nevertheless, the engineers and designers of successful cold-bent projects were able to use various methods of finite-element modeling and physical experimentations to determine the structural resiliency, code compliance, and warrantability of the curved glass. From these analyses and testing, glass manufacturers developed enough confidence to warrant their glass products for use in cold-bending applications. However, the amount of cold-bending utilized in various projects is relatively small compared to the bending performed during the research published by Journal of ASTM INTERNATIONAL.

Sources: Kettle, Interesting Engineering, Fasades of Russia