Can a building ever be more than just a structure of metal, glass, and concrete? The London based architect company; Chetwoods, believes so. They are responsible for the innovative design plans of the twin Phoenix Towers that are set to start construction on an island in the middle of a lake in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province.
The Unique Look
Most people, when asked to imagine a skyscraper, will picture a tall, majestic building soaring into the sky and most would imagine this building to be dominated by straight lines and a modern, sleek gray color palette.
Laurie Chetwood, Chetwoods’s chairman, would tell you something different. His Phoenix Towers will claim the tallest building title (taking it from the Burj Khalife in Dubai), glow pink; in tribute to the fuchsia flower, and feature huge celestial orbs hung between the two buildings, which represent orbiting planets. These orbs will house viewing platforms and restaurants, which will only be accessible via hanging “skywalks” from the two towers. Chetwood promises the restaurants will include French, Japanese, and Turkish cuisine.
The taller tower will even feature a kaleidoscope spun by a wind turbine and the smallest will boast the world’s tallest “green wall”, that is a vertical garden that will climb to the very top of the skyscraper. He wants the towers to stand out in design as tourist attractions and to take people’s breath away.
His inspiration stems from Chinese culture, specifically the idea of balancing powers such as Yin and Yang. The name “Phoenix Towers” stands for a metaphor of what the towers will represent to the environment around it. To Chetwood, the two towers represent two dragons or birds (Feng and Huang), one male and one female, that feed off one another to the benefit of all.
The Fantastic Premise
These skyscrapers aren’t just being built as eye candy though; they also serve a very important and vital purpose to the landscape and nature around them. Chetwood plans on making them some of the world’s most environmentally friendly buildings. For example; the wind turbine attached to the tallest tower will have photovoltaic panels to provide electricity for both buildings. The Phoenix Towers will also feature lightweight solar cladding and hydrogen fuel cells running on the buildings’ waste to generate more power to be used by the towers and even have some left over for the neighboring area.
Chetwood plans on enabling his Phoenix Towers to clean and purify the air from neighboring areas. The architects have designed a “thermal chimney” to be built in the middle of the taller tower. This chimney will heat up from the sun and draw cool air from across the lakes naturally, without the use of electricity, and this air will be used to cool and ventilate the buildings; negating the need for air conditioning. The air will then be filtered and sent back out, cleaner than before. The vertical gardens will help filter out some of China’s notoriously bad air pollution and the towers will be coated in a pollution-absorbing solution to also help clean the air.
Another major goal for the project is to fully clean the lakes of the region. The towers will collect the tainted lake water, pulling it up and through a series of filters before putting it back into the lakes cleaner than before. This will, as fits with the theme of environmental friendliness, use only passive energy and no electricity.
The Projected Timeline
The building of the Burj Khalife in Dubai took six years to be completed but Chetwood claims his Phoenix Towers shall be completed in 2017; or at the latest, 2018. The Phoenix construction is projected to cost over $2 billion.