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Documentary on the Petronas Twin Towers

The National Geographic team goes behind the scenes to give us an insight into the construction of the magnificent Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, writes SHEELA CHANDRAN. 

The next time you pass the Petronas Twin Towers (PTT) at Kuala Lumpur City Centre, take a moment to admire its stately structure. Do you know how difficult it was to erect the breathtaking 452m towers? 

In conjunction with National Day, National Geographic Channel (Astro Channel 52) is airing a special episode of MegaStructures: The Petronas Twin Towers, which highlights the challenges of building these mega skyscrapers. The show is aired today at 10pm with a repeat on Aug 31 at 8pm. 

Award-winning, world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli designed the state-of-the art towers.  

Check out how the Petronas Twin Powers were made on National Geographic. – Picture © Royalty-Free/CORBIS
The mighty towers, under construction from 1992 to 1998, were built on the former Selangor Turf Club. Malaysian national oil and gas company Petronas and its subsidiaries occupy Tower One while Tower Two is rented by other companies. Shopping complex Suria KLCC and the Petronas Philharmonic Hall, home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, occupy the lower floors of Tower Two.  

The towers have 88 floors with a staggering 32,000 windows. Its interior is made mainly from glass, concrete and steel, and designed to resemble motives found in Islamic art. What makes it even more intriguing is its sky bridge that links the two towers. The bridge, on the 41st and 42nd floors, is 170m high and 58m long. Talk about walking on air, eh?  

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had a vision to build the towers with hopes of gaining global recognition.  

Tun Dr Mahathir was quoted in the programme: “Of the five South-East Asian countries, Malaysia was the least known so we wanted to tell the world that we had arrived. We needed something spectacular – a tall building provide the answer.”  

Today, the towers stand as Malaysia’s pride and its modernity, dominating the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Unknown to many, building the breathtaking towers pushed the limit of construction technology. In fact, it took a lot of unexpected turns under tough circumstances.  

It was a colossal challenge like no other as the towers were built in a torrential monsoon region. To make things worse, its builders realised that the construction site wasn’t made of bedrock but unstable sediment, and the towers were not made of lightweight steel but reinforced concrete.  

The programme also takes a look at the problems Pelli faced in designing the structures.  

Get an insight into how he conceptualised a geometric design that was not only tall but uniquely Malaysian with Islamic art in its motifs.  

“We want to air more Asian programmes and MegaStructures: Pertronas Twin Towers is a good example of a documentary which features Malaysia’s success,” said National Geographic Channel’s programming and broadcasting senior vice president David Gunson in a press release.  

Catch MegaStructures – The Petronas Twin Towers today at 10pm and a repeat on Aug 31 at 8pm on National Geographic Channel (Astro Channel 52). 


  • It cost about RM4.6bil to build the towers. 

  • According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petronas_Towers, in 1997 French climber, Alain “Spiderman” Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices of any kind, scaled the building’s exterior glass and steel wall. His bid to reach the top of the building was cut short when police arrested him at the 60th floor, just 28 floors away from the top.  

  • Three missions in the computer game Hitman 2 take place in the Petronas Twin Towers. 

  • In 1999, the building was featured in the movie, Entrapment, which starred Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  

  • Do you know that it takes two years to clean all the 32,000 windows in both towers?  

  • Are you aware that there are over 10,000 people working in both the towers?



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