BEIJING [3 trips]
CCTV [China Central Television] Headquarters
Designed by OMA
Steven Holl Architects
'Bumps' in Beijing
Designed by Keiichiro Sako
The National Center for Performing Arts [The Egg]
There are both elements of this design I find beautiful and ones that I find unfortunate. The iconic “egg” shape and structure itself is impressive as there are no columns in the interior to support the entire shell. The illusionary water feature that surrounds the building is rather impressive and becomes more impressive to me when you walk under it in a corridor to the main performing theaters. The dynamic daylighting experience through the rippling water above is well, Awesome! However once I reached the interior of the shell I was let down. There is little cohesion between the shell and the theater spaces. Although the vast openness is nice, I would like to have seen a better relationship between the two instead of what seemed to be two different entities. The daylighting within the shell also proved to be a little less than I expected. A fun yet somewhat disappointing piece of architecture.
The Forbidden City
Once again the scale of the space designed here is incredible, and the control of that scale here is much better than experienced at the Summer Palace. There is a beautiful progression from north to south [the orientation of the complex] of large civic and community space to smaller and more intimate space found in the gardens at the north side. I felt so small next to the walls protecting the city as well as felt close to a nothing standing within the larger gathering spaces. It was also very interesting to see how busy this place was, filled with what seemed to be mainly Chinese tourists. The contrast in water protection [moat] and outlining wall seemed rather small to me in comparison to the extent of the effort found at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The Imperial palace to me expressed a far greater effort put forth into the water barrier and scale of the wall that surrounded the complex. Both without doubt impressive.
The Great Wall
The Mutianyu Great Wall [over 500yrs old]. The day started with a 3 hour bus ride to the base of the mountain, then a short steep walk through a bustling market at the base of the gondola ride that brought us to the entrance point on the wall. From there it was hard to grasp what I beginning to experience. The human effort exerted in this rather beautiful yet treacherous terrain is simply unreal. Breathtaking is rather cliche but entirely true. I am glad we decided to visit when we did as the the leaves were beginning to change color. Needless to say I was out of breath after only making it half-way to the very top outpost. At one point the stairs could be better described as a ladder requiring both hands and feet to navigate your way up. The wall itself is a staggering symbol and example of the measures taken to protect a people and am unable to comprehend its entirety.
The Olympic Park from the 2008 games was last on the agenda for Friday. Seeing the Bird’s Nest in person is definitely a sight, as well as the Water Cube directly west of it. They compliment each other very well. The Park’s central plaza space that runs from north to south is lined on the east and west edges with all the venues. We visited the Park at dusk and stayed till the sun was down and the Park was busting with life. The plaza had singers, dancers, vendors, tourists and more that kept the space active even after dark and with very minimal light. An fun environment to be a part of and experience.
The Summer Palace brought a whole new concept of scale to me. From not only the size of the main temple in this picture but from the extent of the walled grounds. The Palace is also a fake creation. All the water features at the Palace are man made including the lake on request of the Empress who visited Suzhou, China (the Venice of China) and enjoyed the atmosphere so much she had the Palace designed to replicate it.
Lian Lian Hostel
Our first planned class adventure to Beijing was this past weekend. As a class we were scheduled to visit the Summer Palace and the Olympic Park all on Friday. A few of us in our class decided to spend the night at the Lian Lian Hostel on the east side of Beijing Friday night so we could visit the Beijing Zoo on Saturday. 5 of us stayed in a 6 bed room with Simon, a traveler from Hong Kong who was very kind and hung out with us Friday night.