Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Big Underpants

Completed in 2012, the Beijing headquarters of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television was billed to be the answer to the Arc de Triomphe. However instead of the Chinese people embracing it as a symbol of economic rise, it has become popularly nicknamed ‘The Big Underpants’.

The trend towards atypical building design has reportedly prompted Chinese leader Xi Jinping to call for an end to “weird architecture” in a country that has seen a huge boom in construction.

While most of the older buildings in China are made up of Soviet-style concrete blocks, the massive role that property development has played in the rise of China as an economic superpower has drawn in built environment specialists from around the world. Young unknown architects viewed it as an opportunity to design towers long before their careers could reach such lofty heights elsewhere.

Chinese newspaper the People’s Daily reported on their website that the President of the People's Republic of China used the term “no more weird architecture”, while addressing a group of young artists. It’s seems fitting that it’s them that broke the story, considering that the paper’s own new home, an unmistakably phallic tower, was so widely mocked by internet users, that Chinese censors blocked the discussions.

In China, the People’s Daily and the state broadcaster constitute the mouthpiece of the ruling party, so having the voice of the nation emanating from a giant pair of underpants and possibly worse, perhaps go some way towards explaining the sensitivity around it.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


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