Thursday, March 25, 2010

on National Grand Theatre of China

From: Alexa Haas

The geomancer of the Ming Dynasty who designed the city of Beijing,
"traced the body of Nezha, a young God credited with taming the waters
of the Beijing plain." His Eight-armed body became the structure of
Beijing's layout. Originally, a landmark in the city represents each
of his organs and ligaments: Zhengyang Gate at the South of Tian'anmen
are his eyes (Mao must have known, since he preserved them).
Tian'anmen Square is his brain. The road on the North-South axis into
the Forbidden City is his esophagus. (Ian Johnson, Wild Grass) Now
with the new egg-building 'National Grand Theatre of China' just 500
meters from Tian'anmen, Nezha will turn to his left and wonder "Whose
egg is this?!" Little does he realize there is an Olympic bird's nest
in the city beside his feet.

"The decision to build the Grand National Theatre in a place of such
historical and symbolic import clearly testifies to the importance
given to culture in its relationship with history and the contemporary
world. In such a context, it was out of the question to make an
obscure, less prominent building of lesser importance. But neither
could it pretend to be an isolated structure onto itself. For this
reason, we strove to create a building that shows respect for the
buildings around it…"


I wonder had Paul Andreu and other developers had researched the
architecture and symbols of Beijing? Old Beijing followed the
principle: Earth is square, and heaven is round. Is there a deeper
meaning to this opera house being round? It then becomes a physical
representation of the break in the link from the past and now.
Beijing, though, was a masterpiece.

Beijing was a perfect representation of primitive human thought,
solely based on our five senses and the mystery that lie beyond that.
Before science, before world maps, before the future. This was the
center of the Earth. The entire city was a shrine to the heavens, a
home for heaven's son. "They said that this Beijing was the earthly
termination of the axis of the universe…" (Jeffrey F. Meyer, The
Dragon's of Tiananmen) It was, I cannot stress, perfect. Every detail.
Perfect. It had to be. This is the heavens we are talking about! Does
society no longer ponder the mystery of the heavens? Even NASA still
has questions. Maybe the ancient Chinese were wrong about it being the
center of the Earth, why must we no longer honor their conviction? I
cannot help but mourn the old layout of Beijing. Why can't we just add
to it! This egg to me is foolish really ~ he sits next to Nezha like a
true bastard, saying "You were wrong, you old and dying man ~ I am the
new baby, I represent the truth."


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