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Following a trend popular in Japan, a Chinese ride manufacturer has built a wheel on top of a shopping mall in Shanghai – and it’s already driving up revenues at the urban complex

Shanghai Sky Ring

Why observation wheels could be China’s next leisure-related driver of real estate values


aunched just ahead of Chinese New Year, the Sky Ring at Joy City shopping mall on Xizang South Road has a diameter of 55 metres (180ft) but boasts a highest point of 96 metres (315ft) thanks being perched on top of the mall building. The attraction was constructed by Shanghai Amusement Machine Engineering (SAME) Co Ltd, designer of the Tianjin Eye and Nanchang Star, which is currently the world’s third tallest observation wheel. Like other manufacturers, the Sky Ring’s creators have taken inspiration from the London Eye, but with this and the ride in Tianjin (see facing page), they’ve also added their own unique twist. The new ride in Shanghai, as you can see from the photos left/right, is believed to be the first cantilevered wheel of its kind overhanging both its support structure and the roof of a shopping mall. So while shoppers may be able to view the wheel and the 30m-long “happiness microphone” sculpture that stands alongside it, they must step back inside the mall to access the attraction. One circuit lasts 12 minutes, during which passengers

can marvel over the modern day metropolis of Shanghai. After dark, ultra-high density LED lighting transforms the Sky Ring into a screen capable of displaying both words and pictures. There are also some special lighting features in each of the 30 cabins, with an atmospheric window to roof coloured display available at the touch of a button. Moreover, designers have installed Bluetooth receivers to provide background music for a birthday celebration or “courtship ritual” in the cabin. Riders can also charge their phone via a USB interface. Joy City’s operators are hoping Sky Ring will provide a

focal point of the mall and a meeting place and events space that will attract additional visitors. To this extent, an open-air stage has been set up under the wheel’s supports, where a light show and other performances will be staged, and wedding ceremonies can even be held. Visitors are even encouraged to declare the love to their partner using that aforementioned happiness microphone. Street art, multimedia installations, shops and a restaurant also enhance the rooftop area around the ride.


LEFT: Joy City’s operators are marketing the Sky Ring as a destination for lovers

“Such interesting design alongside the Sky Ring will

effectually gather people, and form a ‘Ferris wheel economy’ in the near future.” predicts Shanghai Amusement Machine Engineering spokeperson Zhang Yawen. “Such a compelling wheel must become the bright eye of Shanghai just like its predecessors in London and Singapore.” “Shanghai Joy City has led the industry in the

collaboration between commerce, art and entertainment,” adds Zhou Zheng, chairman of Joy City Property Ltd. “Such facilities as Sky Ring, the first cantilever Ferris wheel atop a building in China, have driven up overall revenue at the urban complex.” Just as property developers in China have used theme

parks in the past to drive up the price of surrounding real estate, it appears they might now be leveraging observation wheels to do the same thing. Given the considerably smaller footprint and lack of other obstacles in building them, we can expect others to follow Joy City’s lead. APRIL 2016

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