CCTV tower under fire once again
www.chinaview.cn 2009-08-26 20:16:02   Print

    BEIJING, Aug. 26 -- Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas published a statement on oma.nl, the website of his company, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), saying, ¡°The glorious CCTV building stands as the shining symbol for the ever-changing world order, and that's the exact intent of our design.¡±

    The statement also denies that pictures portraying the tower as human genitalia were produced by OMA, indicating that the pictures were circulated on the Internet in 2005 and are not connected to the company.

The CCTV main tower (L) and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, gutted by a fire.

The CCTV main tower (L) and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, gutted by a fire. (Photo Source: Global Times/Wu Gang)
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    An online poll conducted by huanqiu.com yesterday revealed that 47 percent of participants believe there were pornographic incentives in the design of the CCTV building, and ¡°felt very angry,¡± while 35 percent believe the incentive ¡°might be true but they couldn't care less. The other 18 percent didn't believe the rumor.

    The CCTV headquarters has been in the news for some time. A huge fire gutted the north building ¨C the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ¨C on February 9, caused by fireworks during the Spring Festival holiday. CCTV has said it still intends to move to its headquarters in time for the celebrations of the state broadcaster's half-century anniversary and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, known as National Day.

    Koolhaas' statement is a response to a new round of heated debate in Chinese media over the past half-month. Reports included one alleging that, in a recently published book, Content, the CCTV tower was said to have been inspired by sexual connotations, accompanied by several pictures, allegedly published in the book.

    Some reports circulated with headlines such as ¡°Designer fools 1.3 billion Chinese,¡± and ¡°the building should be pulled down as a national disgrace.¡±

    Although the issue drew fierce discussions in China, reports or debate were seldom seen in other countries. As G. Pascal, a professor at University Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle, said, ¡°Architecture is culture, we'd better talk about it with humor.¡±

¡¡¡¡Experimental ground

    The CCTV tower was honored among ¡°the 10 best, new and upcoming architectural marvels¡± of 2007 by Time magazine, but was also mocked as ¡°big underpants¡± by local residents. Its unique shape and the high construction cost has triggered continuous fierce discussion since its construction plan was published in 2003.

    Several Chinese scholars, including Zheng Guangfu, a professor of architecture at the Southeast University, called the design neither stable nor practical.

    Another expert published an article called ¡°Doubting the new CCTV, kill the designer,¡± using the pen name He Qing, and pointing out that the design has a sexual symbol that humiliates the Chinese.

    Six years later, the construction is still a hot topic in China, where so many new and weird-looking projects have recently been built.

    China as the big experimental ground for architects from all over the world has become a main theme of discussion.

    Zhu Zixuan, an architecture professor at Tsinghua University, insisted that buildings should be practical, economic and aesthetically pleasing.

    ¡°I found none of these with the CCTV headquarters building,¡± Zhu said, adding that the building looks shaky, horrifying and is a waste of a lot of money, since a great deal of steel was used in order to keep it stable.

    Zhu lambasted the chasing the fashion of ¡°foreign design,¡± as investors are driven by huge profits from the designs of overseas architects.

    However, Liu Xiaoying, a professor of cross-cultural studies at the Communication University of China, told reporters that the diversity of the buildings in Beijing in recent years is a result of the opening-up policy, which should be tolerated and encouraged.

    ¡°The Sydney Opera House was criticized when construction was completed, but after decades nobody said it was a failure at all,¡± Liu said.

    Zhu agreed with Liu that many creative designs are landmarks of a city, even a country, after completion, including the Sydney Opera House.

    However in China, especially in Beijing, many ancient buildings have been torn down, and so-called fashionable, modern architecture has occupied the downtown areas in Beijing and become popular. One of these architectural complexes, Zhu said.

    ¡°Leaders and investors disrespect the accord between buildings and the environment, and they just want to do something unconventional in China,¡± Zhu told the Global Times.

¡¡¡¡Vulgar Joke

    On hearing that Koolhaas denied putting any erotic incentive in his design, Wu Yikang, the director of the Shanghai European Study Center, said we should avoid politicizing disputes in the arts.

    ¡°We should respect different art forms and ideas with a tranquil and objective mind,¡± Wu said.

    Xiao Mo, a well-known architect believes that the new CCTV building has become a landmark in Beijing and must endure the test of time.

    ¡°If Koolhaas wants to humiliate China, he is humiliating himself,¡±

¡¡    (Source: Global Times)¡¡

Editor: An
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