How often do you see photos of the Petronas Twin Towers on the web these days? Too often I would assume. Why not, the Towers has been around for 14 years now and with a title of the World’s Tallest Twin Towers to its name, this iconic KL structure would surely feature somewhere in various architectural journals and travel related magazines today.
Despite that, it took me awhile to give this post a suitable title. I wanted to name it something more subtle originally, despite the unique angle to the shots. I knew there was something special about these shots but I don’t want to sound too corky about it. I’m not a photographer and will never be. So putting such overused and often easily abusive word is not really a good idea to me. But then, something tells me that the great shots I’ve taken wasn’t due to my photography skills but more importantly it was due to the design of the Towers itself. A beautifully crafted building would make any amateur photographer look like a pro! I’m sure many architects would agree. Hence credit should be given to the man who spectacularly designed this Kuala Lumpur icon – Cesar Pelli.
Asked anyone who’s seen the Petronas Towers themselves and I’m sure they would agree with me that the best time to take photos of the towers is at night, when the floodlights are at full strength, magically transforming the towers into something more..well, magic. What I love about these shots is not just because it was taken at night (approximately 10pm) but rather the condition of the Kuala Lumpur weather at that particularly time – right after a heavy downpour. When most night photos of the icon are taken in such clear skies (which I also admire a lot and am willing to photograph them in the future). I believe these kind of shots are unique in a way that it represents itself in typical Malaysian weather.
A good portion of the 88 storey Towers disappearing into the clouds that was forming around the city.
At one point, the spires looked as if it’s emitting puffs of smoke.
This effect is further dramatized with the orange coloured lights reflected on the clouds. The low clouds reflected the light pollution of the city centre very clearly. One unique feature of the towers is the introduction of a two-level skybridge. Both towers are connected by the bridge on levels 41 and 42. Interestingly, the introduction of this skybridge presents the most difficult part of the construction. The whole bridge was actually lifted up as a single piece!
Initially the Petronas Towers weren’t designed to be the tallest in the world until one day, Malaysian-then Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad thought it was a great idea to go for it even during construction! This resulted in design and structural changes done as the towers were gaining momentum in construction!
The towers official height had also sparked a lot of controversy. At 452 metres, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world recognised by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) from 1998 to 2004.
This even to the fact that the then Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago had more floors (110 compared to 88) and is actually taller overall when its antenna is included. However under the rules of the CTBUH, antennas does not count towards a building’s overall height. However spires do count since it is part of the architectural design. Smart move by the Architect I must say!
Look closely to see how well the Architect uses stainless steel facade in its design. According to Pelli, the idea was to create a multi-faceted diamond sparkling in the sun. The steel extrusion was used not only to define the height of floors but also doubles up as a shading device!
The Towers are cleverly juxtaposed with the use of curves and straight lines in its floor plan. Two simple square-shaped plans are rotated to form a star – a typical form used widely in Islamic architecture. In my architectural library, a curve could never compliment a straight line. This however is an exception to the Petronas Towers which effortlessly weaved the two contrasting lines. The circular sections were used to softened the solid star-shaped plan.
Try to visualise this star-shaped plan in your head and compare it with how it stacks up with this view.
After a couple of hours (yes I’ve actually spent 2 hours in the drizzle), the last patch of clouds started to disappear and the tower is back to its picture perfect scene – cloudless and serene!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the shots as much as I do (as well as learning a thing or two about its design). With the continuous drizzle pouring during this shoot, I can only hope my camera wouldn’t be short-lived.
Have you been to the Petronas Towers before? What do you think about it?