It's difficult to name Kunming's most iconic architectural feature. While Shanghai has several enormous structures that fit the bill, and Beijing as well, the Spring City detonated one of its most beloved landmarks two years ago. It has arguably yet to erect any reasonable replacement, save for perhaps 219 meter-tall Kunming Iron and Steel Building, which at night lights up like some executive's psychedelic fever dream.
Wanda Group (万达集团), the mega-development conglomerate, is looking to make its mark in the race for Kunming skyscraper supremacy, building two identical structures significantly more lofty than any other in town. When finished — reportedly by the end of this year — the Wanda Plaza Twin Towers (万达广场双塔) will reach heights of 307 meters, making them the tallest buildings of any kind in the province.
Work on the center — more commonly referred to as the Kunming Twin Towers (昆明双塔) — began in September 2013. The buildings will each contain 67 floors, planned to be of mixed commercial, luxury hotel and residential use. The announced price tag for such soaring ambitions is expected to top ten billion yuan (US$1.65 billion).
Enormous shopping malls at the base of each tower opened for business on October 31, 2014, marking Wanda's one hundredth 'plaza' in China. As the commercial area opened, Wanda held simultaneous celebrations at its 99 other facilities, attracting millions of people. The opening ceremony in Kunming was highlighted by a 'musical fountain' — a design feature now ubiquitous, if seldom actually used, across China.
Even before the plaza's glitzy opening, the construction site hosted a somewhat unorthodox publicity stunt. A tightrope walker from Xinjiang walked between the two towers via a two-centimeter cable. He used no safety equipment except for a balancing pole, was blind-folded during the crossing and, for some reason, balanced a plastic bottle full of juice atop his head.
Both towers feature slightly curved and twisting façades, said to be inspired by the petals of Kunming's official flower, the camellia. The Kunming Twin Towers are located at 688 Qianxing Lu (前兴路), and the middle and upper floors will command excellent views of the Panlong River to the east.
Tightrope walkers and Rolls Royce exhibitions may draw crowds, but the title of Kunming's tallest building will be a fleeting one for the towers. Also currently under construction is the Dongfeng Plaza project in downtown Kunming. The immense skyscraper, which, pardon the reference, looks much like Barad-dûr in the Lord of the Rings films, will top out at 456 meters and thus dwarf the Wanda towers.
Images: Yereth Jansen© Copyright 2005-2021 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.