"The world is not a rectilinear world, it is a curvilinear world. The heavenly bodies go in a curve because that is the
natural way..."

-- George Bernard Shaw

"I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein."

-- Oscar Niemeyer

Saturday, 31 October 2015

35. The Petronas Twin Towers - As You've Never Seen Them Before

Mention the term "Twin Towers" and people in North America and Western Europe will assume you're talking about the late, though not entirely great, former giants of south Manhattan. But use the same words in Asia and everyone will believe you're referencing the Petronas Twin Towers. Soaring 88-storeys into the the sky over Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the identical towers topped out in 1988 at 1,453 ft. - then the tallest towers in the world.

The Petronas Towers, named after the country's state-owned oil company, immediately captured the global imagination. Argentinian designer Cesar Pelli became an instant "Starchitect" by shrugging off the boxy international style dominating the skyscraper scene at the time, and creating beautifully angular towers that reflected Malaysia's history. I can't describe them any better than skyscraper.org did, so I'll just quote their words.

"Pelli's design answered the developer's call to express the 'culture and heritage of Malaysia' by evoking Islamic arabesques and employing repetitive geometries characteristic of Muslim architecture. In plan, an 8-point star formed by intersecting squares is an obvious reference to Islam; curved and pointed bays create a scalloped facade that suggest temple towers. The identical towers are linked by a bridge at the 41st floor, creating a dramatic gateway to the city." 

In addition to being among the most magnificent towers in the world, the Petronas Towers are among the most frequently photographed. You may not know their name, but you've probably seen them dozens - if not hundreds - of times. You've seen them by day:

 You've seen them by night: 

You may have even seen them during what photographer's call "the blue hour":

But my goal isn't to show you what you've already seen. There's already enough déjà vu in the world. When I spotlight an internationally renowned work of WOWchitecture, my aim is to present it to you in a way that you've never seen it before.

So let me ask you this: have you ever seen the Petronas Towers from up close? Real close? So close that if you held your position for more than 30 seconds you'd need to see a chiropractor the next day? 

Sure, you've seen a zillion photos of their tapering minaret-shaped tops:

But how about their shiny silver-pillared entryway?

Or their beautiful and futuristic - kind of neo-deco - ceiling lamps in the reception area?

Maybe you have been to the towers and even gone inside for a personal eye-balling. I'll bet you haven't seen them in the full bloom of a three-week long Chinese New Year celebration:

The above three shots are not from the actual towers themselves, but from the shopping mall that connects them. Still, the Petronas Towers complex is made up of much more than just a couple of connected skyscrapers, however magnificent. There is also, for example a park that sits at their base, with an artificial pond where children cool off during the always baking afternoon sun, parents watch the nightly light show, and kids of all ages admire the marine -themed metal sculptures:

For my money's worth, the Petronas Twin Towers is one of the three greatest skyscrapers in the world - or two of the four greatest - depending on whether  you count them as one building or two. The others on my list are The Chrysler Building in New York and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. None holds a fixed spot in my mind - on any given day any one of them could be my favourite. Of the three, the only one I haven't seen in person is the Burj. I'm still hoping to get there one day, and maybe then I'll be able to give you a more definitive answer as to which is my absolute favourite.
In the mean time, all I can say for certain is that while other individual towers may have soared past them in height, the Petronas Towers remain the tallest identical twins in the world. That's a record that's held for 27 years, and I see nothing in sight that's going to challenge it.