World’s first kilometre-high tower planned to combat dirty air in China’s Wuhan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 9:23am

The world's first kilometre-high double-tower building that could enter the record books as the tallest development in the world will be built in central China over the next few years, its British designer has said.

Once completed, the “Phoenix Towers” development in central Hubei province will dwarf the current world’s tallest skyscraper, Dubai’s 830 metre-high Burj Khalifa.

It will be constructed on a small island in the middle of a lake in the province’s capital Wuhan over a 47-hectare site, British design studio Chetwoods told magazine Dezeen. 

While the design brief from the Hua Yan Group was for an “iconic” development, the architects have included several environmental features that will combat the city’s air and water pollution.

“It doesn’t just stand there and become an iconic symbol of Wuhan, it has to do a job,” architect firm founder Laurie Chetwood was cited as saying.

The taller building will harvest water from the lake, cleanse it, and then pump it back. Filtration equipment in the towers will purify the air surrounding the building, and they will generate their own power needs from solar electricity plants.

Other environmental features include wind turbines, thermal chimneys, biomass boilers for waste recycling and hydrogen fuel cells.

Chetwoods said the towers, which will cover an area of seven hectares, are “a new style of architecture that emphasises Chinese identity,” devised by the firm in response to a “lot of criticism of these Western-driven designs, almost irresponsible design”.

The design of the two towers draws inspiration from the Chinese mythological bird, the phoenix – Fenghuang in Chinese - with the male called Feng and the female Huang.

The taller “male” tower incorporates the majority of the environmental-related functions and feeds cooled air, water, and electricity into the smaller “female” building. They will incorporate a vast vertical garden as well as restaurants, galleries, bars and other leisure facilities.

The bottom of the two towers is designed like a root of a mangrove tree, with buttresses that create an open space underneath and around the base for tourist-related functions, the magazine said.

The project is still waiting approval from the Wuhan government, but the design house estimated the construction would begin next year and take at least three years to complete. The estimated cost of the construction is £1.2 billion (HK$15.7 billion).

It cited the firm as saying that the project would begin construction next year and that it would take at least three years to complete.

There will be some competition, however, as Saudi Arabia is working on the 'Kingdom Tower' - also due to stand more than 1,000 metres tall and with an estimated seven-year completion date.

Wuhan Land Resources and Planning Bureau that oversees the city's construction work could not immediately confirm the report on Wednesday. 

Wuhan has been struggling to cope with a catastrophic air pollution problem. The Air Quality Index of the city has frequently plummeted to the “severe pollution” level this year, making the city among one of the worst polluted of the country’s 161 cities tracked by the index.

The city’s Environmental Protection Bureau in February pledged to reduce the city’s level of tiny molecules that cause long-term health problems by 20 per cent over the next five years.

China’s booming economy has allowed it to mount the world’s most ambitious skyscraper-building plans. A report from think-tank estimated that 87 per cent of the world’s skyscrapers are under construction in China.

By 2022, China will be home to a staggering 1,318 skyscrapers - two and half times more than those in the US.

Among the planned tallest buildings, the 606 metre-high Wuhan Greenland Centre is expected to finish construction in 2016 to become the world’s third tallest building. The 632 metre-high Shanghai Tower due to be completed this year will be the world’s second tallest building.

Watch: The world's tallest buildings