China’s planned buildings combine amazing height with green technologies.
The eternal competition to build the world’s tallest building has yielded striking landmarks and spectacular rivalries, both of which have escalated in the past century. With its building boom that started in the 1980s, China may have been a late entry, but it’s a force to be reckoned given its penchant for drama and its tenacity. But its most recent entry, announced last week, has the potential to blow all the others out of the water: the paired Phoenix towers will be built on an island and combine every sort of green technology, both feasible and far-fetched. Plus, they’ll be bright pink.
The Phoenix Towers will be built in China’s 10th-biggest city, Wuhan, which is located in the center of the country. The city is split between the banks of the Yangtze River and riddled with lakes. Given its proximity to moving water, it’s only natural that the towers be built with renewable energy in mind. The taller, “male” tower, named Feng, will loom one kilometer high, its sides equipped with photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine couched in its tapering spire. Its sister tower, Huang, will have walls filled with plants (“green walls”), house insect hotels, and be equipped with biomass boilers, which heat the structures by burning plant fuel. At its base, the towers will collect rainwater.
The steel and lattice that give the towers their structure will be a bright, vibrant fuchsia to mirror the spectacular sunsets famous in the region. And the name, Phoenix, comes from the Chinese phoenix of legend, Fenghuang, which is often represented by both male and female entities.
In fact, much of the towers’ significance is more symbolic rather than, well, useful. The Feng (“male”) tower can only be inhabited for about 100 floors, or about half of its height; the rest of the space in that and the other tower is devoted to mechanical and eco-friendly functions. Those involved in the project have indicated that their primary goal is to create a spectacular tourist attraction, reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in utility.