One of the first stops in Chongqing, even before getting to our hotel, was a quick visit to see some pandas!! I was impressed immediately in comparison to the Beijing Zoo with regards to cleanliness, space design & amount of space for the animals, as well as the relative attitude of the animals seemed brighter. Quick hit of knowledge I learned while there: Pandas eat 4 times a day, for 2 hours at a time. That is ridiculous.
Dazu Rock Carvings
A long all-day trip to visit this impressive World Heritage site was quite worth it. The sequence and definition of the space defined by the intricate carvings, the protruding rock ceiling, and the valley of trees in the middle do well to negotiate one through the various Buddhist, Confucianism, and Taoist characters and epigraphs. The elegant and subtle vertical change in ground plane creates separations between the different carvings that flow in a U-shape throughout the valley.
Chongqing Olympic Stadium
The Grand Theater occupies what I find to be the most prominent real estate in Chongqing. It sits on a corner plinth at the confluence of the Yangtze and the Jialing Rivers. Its location is next to a developing central business district and right now is a beacon getting a lot of attention both because its scale is outrageously funky and because it lights the night for Chongqing. However the building is only impressive to me on a sense of its scale. It has a very poor ground plane and basically looks like a spaceship sitting on a landing pad. The form is nice as it echoes the interior program but the surrounding plaza and public plinth is quite boring and doesn't engage the pedestrian due to almost no hierarchy to the planar space.
Axis to the River [Song: Red Hot Chili Peppers "Snow (Hey oh)"]
A time-lapse video of the walk from the entrance of Central Park along the central axis. It takes one though a beautiful sequence of spaces from park, to museum, to theater, and finally the actual riverfront where I was able to dip my had in the water. Although I am not particularly a fan of the theater itself, the public spaces that gradually moved me towards the waterfront I thought were handled quite well. There was a nice progression from the large scale space to the intimate and I enjoyed the rather "untouched" waterfront condition, hardly seen in Chongqing or the other major cities we have visited. However this location is near a developing Central Business District and I can foresee this space transformed to a fully designed public river walk, which has its pros and cons.
This building was a great example of the juxtaposition of program within a single project. Not only is this designed for a library, but it also encases a hotel, auditorium, and small convention center-like space. Other than a few awkward moments of interaction between the auditorium and ceiling the project as a whole was very well done. I enjoyed the atrium spaces, the central garden, as well as I thought the central corridor through the building was handled very nicely. We also managed to sneak onto the roof (we have done a lot of "sneaking" into places on this trip) and get a nice perspective of the exterior and urban context.
Cable Car Ride [Song: Bon Iver "Minnesota, WI"]
My Take on Chongqing
The city of Chongqing is the most beautiful city I have yet to visit. The dynamic terrain, abundance of water frontage, food, and infrastructure (social, transportation, and industrial) is so unique that I can't help but be impressed. My expectations were far exceeded for the most populous city in China that reaches about 32 million and the interweaving of the city systems is beyond what I could comprehend in the four days we were there. I got to experience almost every mode of transportation within the city including bus, monorail, regular taxi, un-marked taxi, motorcycle taxi, and cable car. Leaving the city I got to utilize one last form of transportation, boat!