The Constructor

Lakhta Center, Russia: Skyscraper of the Year

Lakhta Center

Lakhta Center

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The Lakhta Center tower is a 462.7-m tall, 87-story building in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is presently the tallest skyscraper in Russia and Europe, and the fourteenth-tallest building in the world. The tower recently won the Emporis Skyscraper Award, the world's most renowned prize for high-rise architecture, for the year 2019.

The skyscraper is part of the Lakhta Center multifunctional complex and forms a landmark in the business center. The office spaces in the complex will be occupied by the Gazprom Group and its subsidiaries, while about a third of the area will be used for conceptual public spaces.

Lakhta Center, Russia

Construction of the Lakhta Center tower began in 2012 and was completed in October 2018; it is set to open by the end of 2020.

General Details

The Lakhta Center was designed by architect Tony Kettle's RMJM and Russian architectural firm Gorproject. It received the LEED® Platinum certification, the highest international environmental certification.

The tower stands over a boomerang-shaped multifunctional building just over 80 m tall at its highest point, while a 24 m tall arch serves as the main entrance to the Lakhta Center.

The skyscraper was designed as a simple organic spire to appear as a singular landmark in the region. It has an asymmetrical movement in its skin and includes five separate twisting towers with a glazed skin. All these structures come together and taper around a diminishing circular core, enveloped by a further insulating skin.

Lakhta Center, Russia

Apart from the 87 floors, the tower includes three underground floors that are shaped like an equilateral pentagon with a length of 57.5 m on each side. These underground floors constructively form a box-shaped foundation, which performs the function of even distribution of the load from the tower core to the pile foundation.

Designed to embody a blazing flame, the structure is made up of custom-built double-glazed units. Each double-glazed unit has a complex high-tech design in the form of a curved parallelogram 4.2 m high and weighing 740 kg.

The tower is designed as a five-pointed star and has a complex swirling shape, with its wings diverging from the central core. The five wings rotate by floor by 0.82 degrees relative to their centers, or about 90 degrees along the entire height.

Parametric design of Lakhta Center
Image Courtesy: Gorproject

The tower does not have a single repeating floor, making it one of the world's most complex and unique structures. The most challenging design problems for the project were solved using the latest BIM technologies and parametric design.

Foundation of Lakhta Centre

The Lakhta Center tower gains its stability from a structural system of the core, outriggers, and supporting columns. The foundation of the tower was created by following the traditional techniques for high-rise construction in the St. Petersburg region, which mainly consists of shaky or unstable soils.

The foundation was laid in a record-breaking, uninterrupted time of 49 hours of pouring of 19,624m³ of concrete.

Foundation of Lakhta Center

Due to the site's proximity to the Lakhta bay, the groundwater level in the area is half-a-meter; therefore, it was necessary to create a protected space for the foundation. To help achieve this, a wall in the ground was erected from reinforced concrete to a depth of about 30 m, along the entire perimeter of the building. It isolated the entire foundation pit, prohibiting the water from interfering with the excavation and the ongoing works.

Top view of Lakhta Center
Image Courtesy: Gorproject

The foundation consists of bored piles with a total of 264 concrete piles, having a diameter of 2 m, drilling depth of 82 m, and weighing 670,000 tons, setting a new world record in this category. The quality and behavior of the piles are monitored by sensors recording information throughout the entire period of construction and operation of the complex.

Façade of Lakhta Centre

The Lakhta Center features the largest cold-curved façade, comprising a glass façade with 16,505 fragments of different shapes. The skyscraper utilizes the technology of cold-formed glass, making it only the third such building in Russia.

The innovative cold-formed glazing system glazes the outer thread of the façade. The system made the curved façade surface of the tower visually solid and continuous. The glazing design made it possible to create a smooth, spiral-curved facade that reflects the sky and clouds.

Lakhta Center Façade
Image Courtesy: Gorproject

The façade cladding is divided into single-strand and double-strand zones. The space between the two lines of the façade is located along the perimeter of the tower, occupying two floors at once. The air space between the two layers of glazing provides thermal insulation in the closed position of the transom and natural ventilation when overheated from the sun, reducing the need for heating in the winters and air conditioning in the summers.

The geometry of the skyscraper changes over its entire height as the building keeps expanding, contracting, and twisting. Due to these transitions, many different elements were required, which sometimes change with every level.

The glazing elements consist of bent parallelograms with each glass unit reaching a height of 4.2 m, which is equal to the height of each floor. Due to the complex shape of the skyscraper, 70% of the fragments differ from each other in geometry and angle.

The glass is not attached to the supporting frame of the skyscraper and is hung on brackets as the façade panels are exposed to temperature changes and can deform due to the estimated shrinkage of the building.

The spire of the skyscraper is 140 m tall and has a mesh covering. The cladding is made of glass and stainless-steel metal mesh stretched over a frame made of diagonal imposts and horizontal transoms.

The façade maintenance system for each "petal" is designed separately. A smart snow removal system has been developed, and the pulse electro-thermal de-icing (PETD) method will be applied for maintenance purposes.

A façade maintenance system (FSS) operates up to a height of 369 m, it consists of ascent and descent carriages, a platform, and guide rails along the edges of the building. The FSS is lifted from the ground level; its one platform can accommodate two people and has three stages of safety.

Facade of Lakhta Center being installed

The building has rubber rollers to prevent damage to the façade. The top of the spire will be served by industrial climbers utilizing electric lifts.

The arch façade will be maintained by using a self-propelled articulated boom lift with a maximum operating boom height of 18 m. The cradle fixation points will be arranged along the entire façade with a negative slope, which will allow the cradle to be fixed and pulled closer to the façade as it descends or ascends.

Floors in Lakhta Centre

The tower features floating floors, which can absorb vibration during equipment operation. The floor is arranged on a layer of sound-absorbing material that does not have rigid connections with the floor slab, walls, communications (heating pipes, ventilation), and other structures of the building.

Such a flooring system was set up by installing the housings for vibration isolator on a base marked according to the load distribution and covered with a release film. Polystyrene foam strips are installed as formwork in order to obtain a side seam at the walls; then, the floating slab is reinforced and concreted.

It is followed by the installation of prestressed spring elements in the housings after the hardening of the concrete. This lifts the floating floor slab and the gap under the floating slab is adjusted and leveled if necessary.

Lakhta Centre Amenities

The skyscraper will have 38 elevators, comprising of two-level high-speed passenger and administrative types. The operation of the elevators is designed in such a way that the waiting time during rush hours does not exceed 30 seconds.

The Lakhta complex will utilize a state-of-the-art fire extinguishing system that uses water mist and significantly reduces the size of the drops, and increases their density across the rooms. The system improves the evaporation of water by up to 60% along with the precipitating ability of water on the objects on fire. This feature practically eliminates the possibility of the spread of fire across the building.

The Lakhta tower utilizes a supply ventilation system that circulates a certain amount of air to the room, which can be heated in winter and cooled in summer. In addition, the exhaust ventilation serves to remove exhaust air from the rooms. The air discharge and intake are controlled through grilles in the corners of the façade. To reduce the effect of the oncoming wind flow, a protective screen and electrically heated air valves are included.


What is the height of the Lakhta Center?

The Lakhta Center is 462.7 m tall and consists of 87 elevated and three underground floors. It is the tallest skyscraper in Russia and Europe and the fourteenth-tallest building in the world.

Where is Lakhta Center located?

Lakhta Center is located in St. Petersburg, Russia.

When was the Lakhta Center built?

The Lakhta Center was built in 2018, within six years of construction. It is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

Who designed the Lakhta Center?

The Lakhta Center was designed by architect Tony Kettle's RMJM and Russian architectural firm Gorproject.

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