The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur have fast become the symbol of a nation on the rise. Until recently the tallest buildings in the world, the two skyscrapers are a must-see sight for any visit to the capital. With 88 floors, eight being a lucky number to Malaysia’s Chinese population, it’s little wonder they dominate the landscape of the city.
And despite having a distinctly Eastern flavour to the design, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers were in fact designed by Argentine architect César Pelli.
History and construction
The Petronas towers were completed in 1998 on the site of the city racetrack and took seven years to construct and a huge quantity of re-enforced concrete. The glass and steel facia to the towers were intended to resemble Islamic motifs with a modern edge.
Tower one was funded by a Hazama Corporation-led Japanese consortium, tower two was paid for by South Korean companies Kukdong Engineering & Construction and Samsung C&T with the skybridge built by Kukdong Engineering & Construction. Around 560,000 square-metres of unobstructed office space are housed in the towers’ slender profile thanks to an ingenious system of super columns around the outside. Underneath can be found Dewan Filharmonik Petronas where the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra plays, an aquarium and mall.
Massive quantities of re-enforced concrete were used to avoid importing large amounts of expensive steel. However, this has made the towers double the weight of comparable buildings. KL’s Petronas Towers were only overtaken as the world’s tallest buildings in 2004 when Taipei 101 was completed.
Occupants of the Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers
The first tower is completely filled with energy company Petronas offices and those of subsidiary organisations. Tower two is leased to a range of different firms including Al Jazeera English, Accenture, Boeing, Bloomberg, IBM, Microsoft and Reuters. On the bottom six floors is KLCC shopping mall complete with luxury shops, restaurants, art gallery, science discovery centre, and 12 screen cinema. Beneath this is the KLCC metro station.
Surrounding the southern side of the towers is KLCC Park. This landscaped green space in the centre of KL covers 17 acres complete with walking and jogging routes, wading pool, fountain with light show plus children’s playground.
Skybridge and lifts
The most distinctive feature of the Petronas Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur is the two-storey skybridge linking the buildings on floors 41 and 42, 170m above the ground. In order to prevent damage during high winds, the bridge is not actually bolted to the towers but slides in and out of place. The bridge measures 58m and weighs 750 tons. Visitors can use the 41st floor skybridge on a first come first served basis with only 1,700 people allowed each day.
The lifts of the Petronas Towers are all double-deckers with the top compartment transporting visitors to even floor numbers and the bottom compartment taking people to odd floors. This means that anyone entering the building who want to go to an even number floor must first take the escalator to level two before calling the elevator.
From the bottom the lifts are split into three different groups, with some lifts taking people to the first 17 floors, the next group heading to floors 18 to 38 and there are some that go directly to level 41 and 42. Here visitors can change to the which serve the top half of the building, and it is also where the skybridge is located. It is also possible to walk between one life and another by opening a panel in the wall should one lift get stuck.
Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers in the media
Being such stunning examples of modern architecture, the Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers have been featured on film, television and computer games countless tines. The 1999 Hollywood blockbuster Entrapment featured The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur as the setting for an elaborate heist. Former James Bond actor Sean Connery and Welsh star Catherine Zeta-Jones join forces with some death-defying stunts taking place on the towers’ highest reaches.
The American cult TV show 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland has the Petronas Towers as the subject of the opening shot on its first episode. They are also pictured ablaze during the apocalyptic Clive Owen film Children of Men. The popular computer game Hitman 2: Silent Assassin has the towers as the setting for a large part of the game, including a stealthy mission through the skybridge.