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OPEN architecture celebrates topping out of its 'sun tower' along coast of yantai

reconnecting with the natural world


Architecture studio OPEN Architecture has recently completed the Sun Tower, a unique, sculptural structure located along the shores of Yantai, China. Topping out on June 21st, 2023, which coincided with the summer solstice, this 50-meter-tall (164-foot-tall) tower is set to open its doors to the public in 2024. With a conscious design aimed at re-establishing the bond between people and nature, the Sun Tower represents a powerful statement in a time when the global climate crisis demands our attention. See designboom’s previous coverage here.

OPEN sun tower yantaiimages © OPEN Architecture



designed by open architecture with a reverence for nature


In an era where the planet faces an environmental crisis, the architects at OPEN note that our relationship with nature goes beyond mere aesthetics, resource acquisition, or fear of the unknown. The team stresses that it has become a matter of collective survival, demanding our constant awareness and re-evaluation. OPEN Architecture believes that through thoughtful design, architecture can help bridge the gap between humanity and the natural world, fostering a renewed sense of reverence and interconnectedness. Interestingly, Yantai, the location of the Sun Tower, is a place where the ancient culture of sun-worshiping first emerged but was later forgotten.

OPEN sun tower yantai



sun tower: sculpted by sunlight


The Sun Tower stands as a building sculpted by sunlight, facing the majestic sea of Yantai with its striking sliced-open structure by OPEN. It pays homage to the passage of time and the forces of nature. The trajectory of the sun throughout the year serves as the precise geometric logic behind the seemingly formless building. Horizontal slabs and ramps connect the inner and outer white concrete shells, providing support for the delicate and intricate structure. The outer concrete shell features round holes that connect to light tubes, allowing natural light to filter into the interior during the day. At night, these round windows emit a warm glow, resembling shining stars. Serenely situated by the sea under the vast sky, the Sun Tower stands as a luminous beacon, symbolizing the essence of time.

OPEN sun tower yantai



the mixed-use program


Beyond its sculptural form, OPEN Architecture’s Sun Tower introduces a range of mixed cultural programs to the public in Yantai. These programs include exhibition spaces, a library, meditation areas, an outdoor theater, and more, all of which are accessible to the city and its residents. In a rapidly developing industrial district, the Sun Tower serves as a vital cultural hub, providing much-needed spaces for social encounters and fostering the growth of stronger and sustainable communities.

OPEN sun tower yantai



open to the changing seasons of yantai


By encouraging the use of natural ventilation and reducing reliance on air conditioning during the summer, the Sun Tower invites people to experience the changing seasons and the flow of natural energy. The diverse spatial arrangement, comprising outdoor, semi-outdoor, and indoor spaces, offers a rich and immersive experience. In a world dominated by ultra-comfortable modern living, the Sun Tower’s design reawakens our sensitivity to our environment. Embraced by the seashell-shaped inner shell, the outdoor theater also captures extraordinary acoustical phenomena, enhancing the overall sensory experience.




project info:


project title: Sun Tower

architecture: OPEN Architecture | @open.architecture

location: Yantai, Shandong Province, China

collaborator: dUCKS Scéno

structural & MEP engineers: Arup

status: under construction

completion: expected 2024

photography: © OPEN Architecture

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