Sculptural Appeal

A telecom giant courts public approval with artful, technically innovative tower designs.

It’s a classic “not in my backyard” stumper: How can the galloping global demand for cell-phone coverage be balanced with the often strenuous public outcry against building an­-other unsightly tower in the neighborhood? Ericsson’s new Tower Tube turns the anti-aesthetic dominating tower design today—call it the fake-tree school of camouflage—on its head. “Our strategy was different: make [the tower] visible, but make it look good,” says Peter Hjorth, an Ericsson engineer. “This design just fits into public spaces better.” The cell-phone giant unveiled its first working prototype, jointly created by Ericsson engineers and Swedish architect Thomas Sandell, last fall in Kista, Sweden. Not only is the Tower Tube handsomer than most existing structures, it’s greener and more cost-efficient, and it just plain works better. Hjorth walks Metropolis through the key points of the design.

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