SkyWalk, King Power MahaNakhon

Bangkok, Thailand

Buro Happold acted as specialist structural engineering consultants for SkyWalk, a 360° glass viewing platform at the top of one of Thailand’s highest skyscrapers. The King Power MahaNakhon’s rooftop experience is set to become one of Bangkok’s most exhilarating attractions. The deck’s walkable glass platform juts out audaciously from the edge of the 77-storey tower’s top floor and is surrounded by high glass balustrades.

Our specialist structural and glass engineers developed solutions for the glass elements of the deck and access structures, including a four-storey-high helical staircase containing a hydraulic elevator. Visitors enter the lift from the indoor observation deck four floors below.

The superstructure itself contains 200 Ritz Carlton residences, a landscaped outdoor plaza, retail space, cafes, restaurants and terraces spread over multiple storeys.

Buro Happold helped realise architect, Buro Ole Scheeren’s ambitious vision to create a unique and breathtaking experience in this booming global city.

Challenge

Buro Happold’s role was to develop the structural scheme for steel and glass from Schematic Design onwards and then review the final design by the contractor.

Glass installation and replacement was a key consideration in this project, especially taking the height of the building into account. The maximum size of glass panels had to be limited to what could be carried in lifts since the main construction cranes were removed before the deck was installed.

SkyWalk is a 14m x 4m glass deck cantilevering from the building, comprising multi-laminated glass panels, spanning onto a steel box ring beam. Because of the size of the individual deck panels, and the cantilevered support structure, dynamic response to footfall had to be assessed in detail.

The helical staircase that accesses the roof comprises structural glass cylindrical walls, totaling a height of 18m supported on a series of radial steel beams cantilevering out from a central column. The cylinder is exposed to the wind above roof level, and the connections and details need to withstand both local and global loads.

close up of MahaNakhon sky deck from below
“…Like a tea-tray in the sky.” Buro Happold’s super-skilled glass experts engineered SkyWalk, Thailand’s highest observation deck, aka ‘Sky Tray’. Image: MahaNakhon by Buro Ole Scheeren. © Buro-OS / Rirath Somsawat

Solution

The architect’s desire was for the glass panels to be as large as possible, and to minimise the number of non-glass elements, taking into account the access constraints.

The location on the top of a high rise tower, lead to significant wind loading, to be taken into account in addition to pedestrian loading. Due to wind upflifts exceeding the weight of the glass, it was necessary to integrate mechanical fixings into the panels.

SkyWalkers sitting on SkyDeck at the top of MahaNakhon Tower
‘SkyWalkers’ wear protective slippers while ‘enjoying’ the view through the glass floor. Image: MahaNakhon by Buro Ole Scheeren. © Buro-OS / Rirath Somsawat

Our experts designed SkyWalk’s glass floor based on deflection and stress limits, dynamic behavior, and with consideration of potential damage and redundancy.

The size, number and thickness of layers takes into account manufacture, installation, serviceability stresses and deflections, and potential damage of a layer.

The helical staircase leading up to the roof may not have the same visual impact as the SkyWalk, but the design minimised the amount of non-glass elements, and required detailed finite element analysis and very careful consideration of tolerances and movements. Our specialist advice helped to ensure that the glass elements were procured economically and will be able to withstand the forces and stresses associated with such an ambitious structure.

view of glass spiral staircase at the top of MahaNakhon tower
A great glass elevator! The four-storey glass spiral staircase houses the hydraulic lift that brings visitors to the viewing platform. Image: MahaNakhon by Buro Ole Scheeren. © Buro-OS / Rirath Somsawat

Value

The King Power MahaNakhon slices the Bangkok skyline, helping to shape this dynamic city’s identity. Our skilled glass engineers were instrumental in creating the skyscraper’s biggest attraction, offering its visitors an optimistic new perspective on the fast-growing metropolis.

Panoramic shot of MahaNakhon tower
At the top of Buro Ole Scheeren’s landmark ‘pixelated’ tower sits ‘SkyWalk’, a unique new visitor experience. Image: MahaNakhon by Buro Ole Scheeren. © Buro-OS / Rirath Somsawat

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