Last edited 27 Dec 2020

Cradle Towers


In February 2017, London-based architects Tonkin Liu revealed their competition-winning proposal for a new Trade Centre in Zhengzhou, east-central China.

Cradle Towers comprises five towers that swoop out of a ring-shaped podium. The design is inspired by the nearby Songshan mountain range, and is intended to celebrate the city’s origins in a high-tech way.

The complex is a mixed-use development of residential, offices and hotels. Vertical courtyards bring natural daylight into the deep plan at the base of the towers and establish vertical gardens up their inside faces.


At the micro-scale the glass façades are fitted with a responsive skin that accommodates the conflicting requirements of programme, solar shading, and privacy. At a macro-scale it has a gradation upwards from dark to light, establishing the podium as a heavy mass and blending the lantern-like tips of the towers with the sky.

A fluid landscape spills out of the cradle and under the lifted podium ring, connecting the vast inner courtyard to the wider city sprawling beyond. At the peak of each tower a roof-top glass house simultaneously screens the mechanical plant and ‘greens’ the skyline.

Images and content courtesy of Tonkin Liu.

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