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Shantou University Bell Tower

Guangdong, China

This new campus park and bell tower were part of a larger campus expansion at Shantou University (STU) in Guangdong, China. The bell tower, located at the university’s gateway entrance, is a new symbolic landmark providing a setting for the buildings and defining a hierarchy of spaces.

The tower consists of a 75-foot-tall freestanding reinforced concrete wall and a custom steel structure. The steel ramps up around the slender concrete wall and cantilevers out about 30 feet to support a 5,000-pound traditional Chinese bell that is suspended 70 feet in the air.

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The concrete tower is supported by a deep foundation consisting of clustered piles socketed into rock and a reinforced concrete pile cap to resist overturning. The tower’s stone veneer is supported every 6 feet 8 inches vertically to relieve internal stresses and minimize cracking under strong wind loading. The curved tubular section of stainless steel is set against and supported by the freestanding wall with steel brackets.

The concrete tower is supported by a deep foundation consisting of clustered piles socketed into rock and a reinforced concrete pile cap to resist overturning. The tower’s stone veneer is supported every 6 feet 8 inches vertically to relieve internal stresses and minimize cracking under strong wind loading. The curved tubular section of stainless steel is set against and supported by the freestanding wall with steel brackets.

Because the tower is a sculpture with no human occupancy, typical deflection guidelines developed for normal buildings were not applicable. After in-depth computer modeling studies of the dynamic behavior of the slender structure, Silman decided that the design would focus on the safety of the structure using the minimum design loads set by building codes to prevent the structure from collapsing under serviceability conditions. Because the structure is relatively light and slender, wind loads governed the structural design.

In September 2013, when the bell tower was in place, Typhoon Usagi made landfall about 100 miles south of the project site with 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. The bell tower structure performed well without sustaining any damage.

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