While the architectures of yesteryear are often blamed for urban decay, today’s buildings could be responsible for its renewal.
Jutting from the ground like two giant stalagmites, the latest design from UK architecture firm Chetwoods is going to blow the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, out of the water—and save the world while it’s at it. Standing a full kilometer (3,281 ft) tall, the structure might be the key to solving China’s catastrophic pollution problem on every level. Bestowing upon the project the hopeful moniker, ‘The Phoenix Towers,’ Chetwoods hopes to resurrect the Chinese city of Wutan from its ashes.
By using a complex mechanical system to simultaneously filter Wuhan’s air and water, collect solar, wind, and hydrogen power, provide produce from a massive vertical garden, harvest rainwater, house restaurants and businesses, boil biomass, and generally aim to solve every major ecological crisis faced by central China’s “Fourth Pole,” the Phoenix Towers just might live up to their name. “It doesn’t just stand there and become an iconic symbol of Wuhan, it has to do a job,” founder Laurie Chetwood said in an interview with Dezeen. “We’ve applied as many environmental ideas as we possibly could to justify the shape and the size of them.”
Aside from their super-sustainable abilities, one of the coolest things about the Phoenix Towers is that Chetwoods designed them to resonate with local religion and philosophy. The towers link Western technology and architecture to the Chinese myths of the phoenix; two towers represent the dual gender the legendary bird has in Chinese iconography, and the spirit of rebirth is spread throughout all eight hectares of the the half-mile high towers. With these spiritual considerations in mind, the firm makes a peace offering to the the somewhat rocky history of Western insensitivity when it comes to development in China. The towers also aim to attract eco-tourism, with profit margins further extending that olive branch.