Petronas Towers: Kuala Lumpur’s identical masterpieces

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Kuala Lumpur is a cultural melting pot with excellent shopping, budget-friendly 5-star hotels, fantastic food and dozens of authentic nature and wilderness experiences close by. It is a dynamic city with much to offer every type of traveller. But the defining urban experience here has to be an ascent up its majestic Petronas Twin Towers.

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Typically, this consists of an ascent up 170 metres of one of the building’s two towers in a futuristically designed elevator, which opens onto the aptly-named Skybridge – the fantastical structure which connects the two towers together, and which lays claim to being the ‘Highest two-storey bridge in the world.’ After this, you ascend even higher up to the Observation Deck on Level 86, where you get access to absolutely breathtaking views of the world below. As you’d image, these are as spectacular during the day as they are at night. Soaring to a height of 451.9 metres, the 88 storey high Petronas Towers are Kuala Lumpur’s identical masterpieces, and the crown jewelles of the city.

How to design a landmark Planning for the Petronas Towers started in January 1992, led by the distinguished architect Cesar Pelli along with Deejay Cerico, J.C. Guinto and Dominic Saibo. Excavators began digging down to 30 metres below the surface of the site on March 1993, and this work required moving over 500 truckloads of earth every night.

The next stage was the single largest and longest concrete pour in Malaysian history. 13 200 cubic metres of concrete were continuously poured through a period of 54 hours for each tower. This record-breaking concrete slab with 104 piles now forms the foundation for each tower. From this floor, a 21 metre high retaining wall was built, with a perimeter length of over one kilometre. This concrete shell and the basement area it encloses required two years and up to 40 builders on site – working all day and all night.

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The construction of the towers’ superstructure commenced in April 1994, after rigorous tests and simulations of wind and structural loads on the design. Then, in June 1996, the towers were finally finished with their steel and glass outer structure. In fact, the Twin Towers’ exterior now features 33 000 stainless steel and 55 000 special ‘Vision Glass’ panels, with light filtering and noise reduction properties to provide a comfortable inner environment. The design of each of the Tower’s floor plates is based on Islamic geometric forms of two interlocking squares, creating shapes of eight-pointed stars.

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Architecturally, these forms describe important Islamic principles of ‘Unity within unity, harmony, stability and rationality,’ according to the Petronas Towers’ official information guide. The Towers are also ‘intelligent’ structures, and built with a system that seamlessly coordinates telecommunications, environment control, power supply, lighting, fire and smoke control, and building security.

Majestic by day and dazzling at night, Kuala Lumpur’s Twin Towers symbolise the ‘Courage, ingenuity, initiative, determination, energy, confidence, optimism, advancement and zest of a nation,’ as Malaysia’s former prime minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad put it. It’s hard not to agree. Next time you’re in Kuala Lumpur, make sure you travel to the top!

Oman Air flies you to Kuala Lumpur all week.

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