Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"New Beijing, Great Olympics"

I was lucky enough to go to Beijing twice already since I've come to Shanghai. Through this, I realized I don't ever think I can ever get sick of that place because of their architectural wonders--ancient and contemporary. The funny thing is, I have a love-and-hate relationship with Beijing's contemporary skyscrapers. Since the Maoist period, Beijing's precious historical landmarks has been bulldozed down mercilessly by developers and replaced by these crazily designed skyscrapers that jut out randomly all throughout the city. The hate part is that these monstrously tall and big buildings are the sign of China's failure to preserve its ancient history and it's wonders. The love part is that these new buildings that seem to be popping out by the day look meticulously and cleverly designed. They are artwork that everyone can't help but stare in awe.

I had a chance to see the CCTV Building. This had such a huge impression on me, because the design blew me away. They remind me of different-shape tetris blocks that didn't fit quite right, but still was able to fit together in harmony. Some people say Beijing's new skyscrapers are very ugly, but I don't think so. I love the futuristic modernity to each and every one of them. The CCTV Building also made a huge impression on me because frankly, it scared the living hell out of my classmates and I as we spotted it at night. It loomed over us through the hazy darkness, and we named it "the Monster." The futuristic weirdness of its shape probably exacerbated this effect.

My favorite, however, had to be the Olympic Stadium a.k.a. the "Bird's Nest."
The meticulous detail that went into it was incredible! The nest structure-like metal wires that intertwine together seem so delicate yet robust. And I really loved the dipped center, because it added a unique imbalance to the architecture. The concept of the Bird's Nest seemed to be deliberate. The design can signify/symbolize so many concepts that perhaps China was trying to express to the rest of the world. In one of my classes, we had discussed possible themes. The most interesting one that I believe China was trying to express was its efforts on being eco-friendly--trying to alleviate China's deadly pollution. How does it relate? The delicate design that resembles a bird's abode represents nature. The similarity among all of the new buildings I have seen were its futuristic characteristics. The bizarre designs, the intricate technology that went into it, etc. Perhaps, the theme represents prosperity in the future through high technology and so forth.

Unfortunately, I personally disliked the "Water Cube." I don't understand why they based it off of the "Soap Bubbles" structural concept. It almost looked run down and took away from the grandeur of Beijing's other contemporary architectures.

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