Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No More Weird Buildings

By Haoyang Li

The President of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for an end to the “weird buildings” being built in China, and particularly in the nation’s capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.
CCTV New Building

This statement is that it is an extension of his mission to crack down on corruption and extravagance within the Chinese Government, having removed 51 officials from government as of August.
In particular his statement that art should “inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles”. It shows that Xi want to raise the traditional Chinese culture, try to avoid the architecture field in China become a test of international Architects.
Another interpretation, offered by Wolfgang Georg Article in Forbes Magazine, links Xi Jinping’s comments to architectural tourism, saying: “Chinese outbound tourists used to be impressed by futuristic buildings they encountered in places like Dubai and recently also London, but with more and more of such projects realized in Beijing… the pull factor of contemporary architecture for them is diminishing.”
Article also notes that the number of foreign tourists visiting Beijing has steadily declined in recent years, but while he concludes that ”maybe this argument will help to sustain future projects by world-class architects,” it could also have the opposite effect: perhaps Mr. Xi realizes that the draw of “weird architecture” is not strong enough to sustain China’s tourism industry, and therefore not worth the financial and reputation risks it poses.
Previously it had been thought that Chinese culture was simply not strong enough to support its building boom without the help of foreign architects: in early 2012, Mr. Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao wrote “the international culture of the West is strong while we are weak.” However, mere months later, the Pritzker Prize was awarded to Wang Shu, the first time it had been awarded to an architect both born and working in China. Furthermore, Wang Shu has been noted for his Critical-Regionalist approach, combining Western modernism with traditional Chinese influences.
Beside the criticism, anther results of this statement have reduced the number of new buildings. As far as I know, the firm I used to intern in China has canceled several projects. Some of them are design processing. And it is a good way to slow down the design process. Give time for Chinese to rethink what building is China need.
I will collect some really weird buildings in next couple weeks.


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