China’s pollution-cleaning towers will be the world’s tallest

The towers will be built in the city of Wuhan in China, with one slightly taller than the other. With a planned height of almost a kilometre, the tallest of the pair will edge out the Burj Khalifa in Dubai as the tallest building in the world.

They’ll also be two of the most environmentally friendly buildings ever made. According to Adele Peters at FastCompany, the pair will be built on an island, and the larger tower will be responsible for ‘feeding’ sustainable power to the smaller tower. It will also be responsible for cleaning its surroundings by pulling water up out of the lake, cleaning it, and then putting it back.

“The water goes up through a series of filters,” said Laurie Chetwood, chairman of UK-based Chetwoods architect firm in charge of the project. “We don’t use power to pull the water up, we’re using passive energy. As it goes through the filters and back, we’re also putting air back into the lake to make it healthier.”

“The towers also have pollution-absorbing coatings to help clean the air, vertical gardens that filter more pollution, and a chimney in the middle of the larger tower naturally pulls air across the lake for better ventilation. Wind turbines, lightweight solar cladding, and hydrogen fuel cells running on the buildings’ waste will generate all of the power used by the towers, plus a little extra for the rest of the neighbourhood.” Once approved by the city’s mayor, construction is planned to start at the end of the year, with a completion date of 2017 or 2018.

“The most amazing thing for me is that in the UK we strive as designers to get things built, and there’s a lot of red tape, but the Chinese seem to have a different view of things,” said Chetwood.

“I think they’re incredibly optimistic. If you have an idea and you think, ‘Oh, is this going to be too exciting, they’ll actually want it more exciting. It’s more ambitious. They’re quite keen to push the boundaries. For a designer, that’s fantastic. It’s a thrill.”

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