Sky Ring Inclined Elevators

Combined, the commercial form and content of Sanya International Duty Free City provide tourists and locals with one-stop tourism, leisure and shopping services

Located in the internationally renowned tourist attraction Sanya City in Hainan Province, China, the first phase of Sanya International Duty Free City was opened in September 2014. With a commercial area of more than 70,000 m2, it is a collection of tax-free shopping, dining and entertainment, and cultural exhibitions. The high-end retail commercial complex is the world’s largest single duty-free shop. Nearly 300 internationally renowned brands have settled in, and it brings together five functional areas of national specialty products, Hainan specialties, outdoor sports, food, entertainment and leisure areas. Its second phase opened in January 2020. This portion has a total construction area of approximately 65,000 m2 and is across the river from the first phase. They are connected by the Sky Ring landscape bridge.

French architect Hugh Dutton, who also participated in the design of the glass pyramid of the Louvre, personally designed the Sky Ring. Intended to look like a silver diamond ring pointing to the sky, it is currently the only single-tower, universal-hinge, cable-stayed pedestrian landscape bridge in the world, serving as an artistic landmark of the city.

Suzhou Rhine installs intricate system in project that bridges the gap of a massive high-end tourist attraction.

Sky Ring Observation Deck

The total length of the bridge’s steel deck is 233.4 m. The main bridge is a double-sided I-beam, single-tower cable-stayed bridge with a length of 175.8 m. The span layout is 99.8 + 51 + 25 m, and the length of the inclined tower is 84.59 m. A single-column steel leaning tower and a Sky Ring observation deck are arranged at about one-third of the height of the upper part of the steel tower. The height of the deck is 45.58 m, and it has diameters of 11.93 m (inner) and 13.7 m (outer). The main beam of the approach bridge adopts double-sided steel I-beams with a span arrangement of 27.4 + 30.2 m, and the beam body adopts a steel beam structure, which leads to the Sky Ring from the beam surface via an inclined elevator.

The Inclined Elevator

Developer China (Sanya) Travel Investment Development Co., Ltd. chose Suzhou Rhine Lift Manufacture Co., Ltd. to manufacture and install an inclined elevator for the landscape bridge to satisfy the demand for safe transportation for passengers from the ground to the observation deck.


The bottom of the tower is thick, and the top is thin. The space of the machine room is small, so installation of the hoist could not be implemented in accordance with conventional procedures. By communicating with the contractor during the preliminary phase of the installation, the hoist was transported to the site and set on the tower at the ground before it was erected.

The working surface was tilted and very smooth, with no suitable place for workers to set their feet, when the H-steel and guide rails were installed. Therefore, a high degree of cooperation between workers and machines when lifting and installing the guide rails was required. Additionally, because of the constant wind from the sea, tower shaking and other factors increased installation risk and difficulty. To ensure safety and quality of installation, three temporary hanging points were welded every 1.5 m on the working surface to facilitate the work. When installing the guide rails, guide rails at the bottom were installed first. Then, workers continued installing the guide rails and brackets by using a temporary installation platform and the hoist.

The landing doors and car door of this elevator are both inclined, and the door operator is at the bottom. This is the first such domestic adoption in China, and the installation of the landing doors was tricky: there is no pit in the traditional sense, and the distance between the ground and landing door on the first floor is nearly 7 m. Right below the elevator cabin are the foundation and equipment of the tower. Due to its oval shape across a wide area, scaffolding was impossible, and aerial ladder trucks were unable to enter the site. Instead, large-scale lifting equipment in the form of a hanging cage was used to complete the installation.

Technology Implemented

Under the precondition of ensuring the safety of passengers and not affecting the elevator performance, while not compromising the viewing function of the installation, technicians specially designed an open cabin. Given this one-off design, Suzhou Rhine adopted a tilted car door and landing doors, as well as a lower door-opening mechanism. This was designed to not only ensure smooth opening and closing of the car door and landing doors, but also to minimize the impact they may have on passengers.

If the Sky Ring bridge is like a diamond ring worn on the ring finger, the inclined elevator Suzhou Rhine installed is the diamond on the ring, which has become the finishing touch of the entire landscape bridge. The project was completed in March 2020.

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