Chetwoods Architects' Phoenix Towers Chetwoods Architects

A British architecture firm revealed plans for a pair of kilometer-high towers in Wuhan, Hubei, in central China earlier this week. If completed, the Phoenix Towers would become the tallest pairs of buildings in the world, surpassing the current record holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, by about 170 meters (600 feet).

Chetwoods Architects say the towers are designed to reflect the duality of the Chinese identity, particularly the towers’ namesake, the Chinese Phoenix, which pictures male and female birds. Each of the towers are named after these birds, Feng and Huang.

Chetwoods and Hua Yan Group wanted the project to be the environmental landmark of Wuhan, which was recently designated by the Chinese government as an environmental "Super City."

“It was blatantly iconic,” Chetwoods Architects founder Laurie Chetwood said of the design. “…It doesn't just stand there and become an iconic symbol of Wuhan, it has to do a job. We've applied as many environmental ideas as we possibly could to justify the shape and the size of them.”

Only half of the taller Feng tower is habitable; the higher portion features most of the environmental features and itself acts as a thermal chimney to draw cool air up through its structure. It will feature photovoltaic cladding, wind turbines, both water recycling and waste recycling, and more. Feng will feed this clean energy over to Haung, which houses the public, commercial and green space.

The large open space at the bottom of each tower are meant to resemble the bottom of mangrove trees and will allow for public gatherings. The two towers will cover 17 acres of a massive 116 acre complex with more commercial and tourist infrastructure.

Chetwoods hopes to set the example for a new kind of Chinese architecture that combines the “21st century Western Technological know-how and experience with Chinese tradition and culture,” based on their client’s (Hua Yan Group) wish to emphasize “Chinese identity.”

The stunning, arguably somewhat gaudy pink colors of the towers are meant to reflect the sunset in the Wuhan region.

The announcement comes less than a year after construction was halted on the Sky City Tower in nearby Changsha, which was supposed to be the next tallest skyscraper in the world. The architects behind the project boasted that they could construct it in 210 days, but Chinese officials stopped construction for a failure to obtain the proper approvals.

If all goes as planned, the Phoenix Towers will be completed by 2017 or 2018, just before the Kingdom Tower, which is also slated to be a kilometer high, is completed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.