Innovating through structural engineering: multi-dimensional facades at 11 SKIES

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AECOM’s groundbreaking façade engineering in the 11 SKIES project wins the CTBUH – Award of Excellence Winner, Systems Award 2023.

Located within the Hong Kong’s Airport Island, 11 SKIES serves as an innovative landmark in retail, dining, and entertainment, showcasing advanced engineering practices. This structural masterpiece, distinguished by its intricate façade design inspired by the elegance of paper planes, sets a new standard in façade engineering. The façade, spanning 92,000 square meters, presents significant engineering challenges.

Balancing Bold Design with Complex Structure

Inspired by the concept of flight, three unique façades were designed for 11 SKIES, paying homage to the project’s proximity to the airport. The “paper plane form” has been transposed and translated to create a captivating façade. The challenge across all three façade types was to balance the strong visual impact of the design with the complexity of the structural requirements due to their form, including a 15-meter-high glass wall. This was particularly critical for the precise glass wall, waterproofing requirements, and energy-saving goals.

Technical Innovation and Advanced Design

11 SKIES stands for its highly technical and innovative façade engineering. The design was brought to life using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology, which enabled precise cutting for the 3D steel frame, a crucial component in achieving the paper plane design. Approximately 400 CNC nodes were integrated into the structure of the skylight and interior glass wall system with parametric geometry, further increasing the project’s complexity.

The project also utilized a modular integrated system, streamlining the transportation and assembly of the structure. The complex shape was divided into 250 assembly modules, painted and packed off-site, then reassembled on-site using “bolt & nut” connections for accuracy and efficiency. This approach not only saved time and reduced construction waste, but also ensured a high degree of quality control as each module was carefully inspected and tested before integration into the overall structure.

Sustainability and Environmental Consciousness

AECOM was involved in the façade engineering design for the project and supported the integration of environmental considerations into the 11 SKIES. The skylight system, designed using complex parametric geometry, plays a key role in energy conservation. The unique color scheme, achieved using dichroic paint, enhances the project’s aesthetic appeal.

As the first one-stop retailtainment and tourism landmark in Hong Kong,11 SKIES is set to redefine Hong Kong retail and tourism landscape. Opening by phases from 2022 to 2025, it is an integral part of the SKYCITY development under the government’s master plan of Airport City transformation. The unprecedented strategic location between two ports of entry and the newly launched SKYCITY Transport Terminal will enable 11 SKIES to become a super gateway for travellers via Hong Kong International Airport and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. With superb connectivity and pioneering retail and entertainment concepts, 11 SKIES will undoubtedly become a must-visit destination by itself, and contribute to Hong Kong’s tourism refresh together with other tourism partners on Lantau Island.

Awards and recognition for 11 SKIES